Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'm Claiming this Blog on Bloglovin'

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

They said I have to do this, so I am. Do y'all use Bloglovin'? It's been my favorite reader since the dimise of Google Reader. It doesn't give the option to tag posts in categories, like Reader but you can get around that by using Pinterest as well. I like that it actually takes you to the blogs though instead of just giving you the content.

This isn't a scheduled post. It's just for funsies. Because they told me I had to to make it work. Please enjoy this picture of the giant Van Gogh painting in Kansas. I think.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Suitcase Coffee Table

Sometimes the best things in life truly are free, or at least close to it. This coffee table adds so much charm and whimsy but it cost a grand total of $4. Yup. And that was technically a donation. To make this adorable and cheap table, you need very few things:

1. A hard shell suitcase (thrift stores, garage sales, and estate sales are the best) 
2. Table leg top plates - 4 (like these)
3. Table legs - 4 of your choice (these are super cheap and could easily be dressed up or left plain)
4. Screwdriver
5. Very short screws - I needed 16 but it depends on your top plates. The length also depends on your suitcase. Don't rely on any that come with the top plates because they are made for much thicker bases. If you're a really cool kid, just take your suitcase to the store with you and hold screws up to the edge to test it. I'm sure the people at the hardware store have seen crazier things. I speak from experience when I warn that getting screws that are even just a little too long means they will poke through the top which can scratch you, ruin the suitcase, or at the very least make it super wobbly. It's a small, but important detail.

Make sure the suitcase opens to be a flat surface before you try to use it as a table. Once you have all the materials, the first thing you need to do is the use the screwdriver to attach the top plates in the corner of the suitcase. If yours has a rounded edge like mine, the plate should go just before it starts to curve and instead of flush against the outside edge. Its' a good idea to keep your other hand, or at least a finger, or the outside of the suitcase so you can feel if the screw starts to poke through. No bueno.

After your top plate is secure, screw in the table legs. Flip the table over and you're done! It should take you a grand total of 20 minutes to make.

My suitcase was from an estate sale on the side of the interstate (the $4 donation) and the table legs/hardware were generously provided by friends who collect antiques  some of which are not always in the best of shapes and can be used for parts. The moral of the story is: always ask around. Who knows what you might find!

The best thing about this table is that when I moved, it was easy to unscrew that table legs but leave the top plates on, then shove curtains, pictures, and anything else that belonged in the living room inside. It was like creating a living room decorating kit, contained in a pop up coffee table. Cheap and functional. Who could ask for anything more?

In the Montana Apartment:

In the South Carolina apartment: 

If you decide to make one, let me know how it turns out! It could also be a fun idea for a nightstand or anywhere else you need some extra, but removable, surface space.

PS. My favorite part is that the address label of the last (maybe original?) owner is still taped on it. It adds so much character. I've been tempted to write a letter to that address before but that seems borderline creepy...

PSS. I'm struggling with blog worthy photos! Any advice is greatly appreciated! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Light Switch Swag

Blurry again...
In my defense I only took the picture at the time because I wanted to show my Mom.
Not because I had planned to share it with the internet world. 

If you move a lot, or live in an apartment, you probably either can't or won't want to paint the walls. It's a great homey touch, but TONS of work.

In order to get around this predicament, I tried to think of little ways to add color and personality to walls without leaving anything permanent or difficult to change. One of my favorite ways has been to personalize light switch plates. It's SO easy and can turn out pretty stinkin' cute. But if they don't, a light switch plate costs about 50 cents from any hardware store so you can probably afford to mess up a few times.

To make the one you see pictured, use shades of green and brown construction paper (the dollar store is  a great place to load up on this crafting essential), markers, and Modpodge. Nothing fancy! The bird is actually a garden marker from the Target dollar section bought a while ago that came in a pack of 3. Cut the green paper into slightly different shapes and sizes of leaves, using a marker to accent. Layer them over the plate using Modpodge under and on top of each layer. Cut your brown paper to any tree shape you like, leaving enough extra to wrap around the sides. Marker again is great to add a little texture. This bird just happened to be on a piece of wire that goes the length of the plate. It was easy to use the brown paper to wrap around that wire and keep it in place. No glue needed! Using markers to color the screws adds a nice touch. Cover the whole thing in a healthy layer of Modpodge and let it dry. It takes about an hour to make, but let it dry overnight before you display it proudly.

The fun thing about this idea is that it can be as simple or complicated as your style. Not in the mood to cut out a bunch of leaves? Use 1 piece of scrapbook paper, or even a shopping bag from your favorite place, carefully cut out the area for the switch, and Modpodge that sucker into submission. Don't forget to let me know how it turns out!

Moving? Decide you need a change? Get new furniture? Make a new one! These would make a fun, unique, and inexpensive gift too. This one now belongs to a friend in Montana who helped me move and asked to keep it.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Favorite Apartment Ever (So Far)

I'm convinced that my apartment while in Montana is actually the cutest apartment ever. And I don't say that lightly. I also don't mean how I decorated it. I mean, the basic layout and charm of it even when it was bare empty: adorable. Part of what makes it so neat is the long history of the building. According to the landlady, it was built in the early 20th century and was always intended to be apartments. My theory is they were built to accommodate the railroad workers flooding the west. In my mind, it makes total sense with the time period and the town. I used to love to imagine all the poeple who had lived there before me. Where were they from? What did they do? Where did they go? SO MANY THINGS I WANT TO KNOW.

The apartment is what I would describe as a modified studio. Technically it was a 1 bedroom, but in reality it was a large rectangle of a room that was split in half with a set of french doors in the middle. Then the kitchen was its own room as well as the bathroom (for obvious reasons). There wasn't a clear intention for either of the "rooms". They were both pretty big so in my head I separated each in half. The first half, with the front door that led to the hallway had a living room on one side:

And a dining room on the other: 

An example of the quirkiness: both of the doors pictured behind the table lead to the same closet. It's a great closet, but does it really need 2 doors? ANSWER ME, HISTORY. And yes, don't judge me that technically my clothes closet and dining room were in the same area. (Sorry all of these pictures looks  a little burry for some reason.)

Now to pass through the doors... That in real life were almost always open...

To my bedroom and craft room!

Command central, basically. Pictured as being a total mess because there was never a time when it wasn't.

The kitchen was apparently designed for someone about 7 feet tall. The wood of the bottom shelf in the cabinets was my eye level. Not even the contents, the wood itself. But it had this awesome little spice rack/pantry thing built next to the back door!

Did I mention there was a claw foot tub?

For those of your who don't know, taking baths in a claw foot tub is amazing. Taking showers, however, is not. You almost need a forcefield of shower curtains around you to try to keep the water from spilling out, and then the curtains start billowing in on you at times. I now understand the reason they started to lose favor in the modern world.

I miss my little Montana apartment... Anyway, as you can see, the apartment was full of charm and inspiration. My year there allowed me to try my hand at tons of fun little DIY projects that I can't wait to share. Did you ever live in a building that was older than some states? I'd love to hear about it! If you see anything in the pictures you have questions about, please comment and I've be happy to answer.

Zucchini Boats

I have a tendency to make things up as I go along; song lyrics I'm trying to hum with the radio, good stories, recipes. Especially recipes.

I also have a tendency to get a little too enthusiastic in the produce section and buy fresh items without an idea in mind.

Only occasionally do these two habits coincide. This. Is one of those moments.

I present for your culinary enjoyment: "Zucchini Boats."

Here's what I used but you could try all kinds of substitutes.

-2 medium zucchinis
-1 lb ground chicken
-baby spinach
-1 half of a small onion, diced
-2 garlic cloves, diced
-baby spinach
-frozen corn
-salt and pepper (and other seasonings to taste)

1. Cut your zucchinis in half the long way. Use a spoon to carefully scoop out the middle. Chop up the zucchini innards (one of my favorite words) and set aside in a medium bowl.
2. Dice your onion and garlic cloves and add to the zucchini innards (I'm going to use it as many times as possible).
3. Put a little splash of water in a skillet to cook your spinach. Once fully cooked, add it to your innards bowl. *Now is a good time to start preheating your oven to 350.

4. Brown your ground chicken. I just used the same skillet I cooked the spinach in.
5. Add salt and pepper and other seasoning as desired. The roomie is not much for spices or I would have experimented a little more. Tony Chachere's creole spice is delicious on everything if you like a kick.
6. Drain your meat and add your bowl of innards and veggies to the skillet. I also added some frozen corn at this stage and let it all cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
7. While your chicken and veggies are getting to know each other in the skillet, shred your cheese of choice. Mozzarella was good but I think cheddar would have added a totally different element. Especially with the creole seasoning... Next time, next time...

8. Prep your zucchini halves by laying them out on the cute mini-stoneware your Mom got you for Christmas. Or use a cookie sheet like a normal person. Spoon your stuffing into the emptied zucchini halves, now "boats" and sprinkle the cheese on top. I filled mine pretty full, but that's because I only actually had 1 zucchini and a TON of stuffing.
9. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 so the cheese has time to melt and the flavors all run together. The zucchini should also get pretty soft.
10. Enjoy! I had just one half and that was plenty for me for dinner. It's a compact, but filling meal. I ended up using a knife and fork to eat it, just as a tip.

Not only do I love getting to use up a bunch of things in the fridge, but I love that it's a whole meal contained within the zucchini boat! Veggie and protein heavy but carb light, if you care about that sort of thing. If you try different varieties, please let me know how they turn out!

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