Tuesday, February 28, 2012

DIY Nightstand

After the pilot felt how great it was to complete a DIY project with his Vintage Steamer Trunk, he was hooked on carpentry.  I knew I had to take advantage of this moment so I started showing him all of my Pintrest boards to help him with ideas.  The next project he completed was an awesome upholstered headboard and footboard.  That will be another post on another day, I promise.

The new bed directed our focus onto the entire bedroom and we realized we needed some change.  We moved in almost four years ago and our bedroom is still white with random pieces of second-hand tables.  I've always wanted a real grown-up bedroom set so now we were finally on our way.

After the bed was finished, we bought new bedding with some fun decorative pillows.  Then it was apparent that we needed new nightstands and Adam was up for the carpentry challenge.  After perusing a few bloggers I came across Ana White's blog and found the most perfect plans for our nightstands.  I won't try to recreate the instructions but here are a few photos of his work.

Here is the finished product in my bedroom.  Total cost for two nightstands was about $150.  While it is not a cheap project it is much cheaper than it would be buy in the store. 
He even added a shelf inside to hid all of our crap that used to be exposed.  Seriously these nightstands have been such a blessing to help give us storage while keeping our bedroom tidy.

Once the bedroom makeover is complete I will show you the photos of the whole room.  The before and after will be completely different!  I cannot wait for it to be finished :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Preventing Lost Socks

Growing up I was never scared of monsters living in my closet or hiding under my bed.  But I did really hate that one particular monster that always pissed off my mom and probably pissed off your mom too.  You know, the monster who lived in our dryer and ate our socks.  At least that's who my mom always blamed when she returned our clean laundry only to find a few lonely socks missing their twin.

I always used to think it was the dryer at my parent's house, like maybe it had a a secret compartment that I never saw and the socks got sucked into it.  Then once I moved out I realized that it is an epidemic everywhere. The pilot gets annoyed that I always buy new socks with different patterns because then it decreases the chances of matching them up.  That leaves us with these two fabric bins full of lonely socks in our laundry room waiting for their perfect match.

While perusing the aisles at the Dollar Tree, one of the last remaining dollar stores where everything is still only $1, I saw a box with 2 delicate zippered laundry bags.  Immediately I realized that this would be a perfect solution for my socks.  After bringing them home I stored one in my night stand so it would be out of sight, surprisngly the neon green does not match my bedroom decor, and it would be a practical spot because I always remove my socks right before bed.  From then on I would take off my socks each night and put them in this mesh bag.

Once the bag was filled enough I zippered it up and threw it in with a load of laundry.  After a cycle in the dryer, I unzippered the bag and it was easy to match up.

Ta-da!  No more lonely socks.  I just wish I had thought of this sooner.  Hey dryer monster - suck it :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

WW Italian Vegetable Soup

This recipe calls for a delicious variety of Italian vegetables and greens that give this meatless soup lots of flavor. 

The pilot is still home so we have been really spoiling ourselves with food and drinks.  Yesterday was my only day off, and it was a gorgeous one, so we thought it was a brilliant idea to go to Hooters and enjoy some (or many) drinks and fried foods.  I am pretty sure that the calories I consumed yesterday alone equate to the amount I should digest for one whole week.

That being said I am feeling the need to make one big batch of soup that will provide me with light lunches for the week.  I found this recipe on the Weight Watchers website and it is ONLY 1 point plus per serving.  If you are unfamiliar with WW, just know that it is really good for you :) 


I followed the recipe exactly except that I used the small tri-colored sweet peppers instead of just one red.  I've been buying those bags from Costco, Aldi and Trader Joe's and try to incorporate them into recipes when I can.  They're just so pretty!

After you chop everything up... it is not a quick recipe to prep... dump it all in a soup pot except for the basil and parsley.

Cover the pot, cook on high and bring to a boil.  Once you reach a boil lower the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Then simply add the basil, parsley, salt and pepper.  If you're looking for something heartier you can add some cannellini beans or some orzo pasta.  Either way, it's a tasty and light guiltless soup - enjoy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spinach Nachos

My best friends will laugh at this understatement... I love nachos.  Seriously, chips and melted cheese is a big time weakness for me and we have had a long time love affair.  I was even told by a guy, okay a boy in high school, that one of the reasons he was dumping me was because I ordered nachos at the movies and the crunching was too loud.  It's okay though.  Nachos are still providing joy to my life.

Now that I spend most nights making dinner for one, I often take shortcuts and spare myself the work that goes into cooking/cleaning.  This usually results in me whipping up some quick nachos.  To make nachos an acceptable meal for dinner (a few nights in a row!) I find creative ways to make it a unique and tasty dish.  I always start with the same base of tortilla chips but mix up the toppings.

This recipe is based off a meal that my mom except she would bake them on flour tortillas.  Since I am impatient when I get home, and I love the crunch of a good nacho, I adjusted the recipe so it could be microwaved on tortilla chips.

First you chop up fresh spinach, add chopped garlic, drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and pepper.

Mix it all up in a bowl so that all of the spinach has a little oil on it and spread on top of tortilla chips.

Add some shredded mozzarella cheese (I used reduced fat), microwave just enough for the cheese to melt.  It varies based on microwaves, but for me it was 40 seconds.  After that I sprinkle a little crushed red pepper to add some more kick and you're done!

Do you have any fun nacho recipes that you make?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

DIY Vintage Steamer Trunk

The pilot was promoted to captain, hooray!  This means that his training period has given him longer spurts of time at home... alone... while I am at work.  This resulted in a very bored husband.  Since I am a pro at spending time by myself I shared my secret remedy to boredom: create something!  (Ok, so it is probably not a secret since I have a blog on the world wide web devoted to creating things but somehow it was magical when I shared this idea with him.)

We bounced around a few Pintrest inspired projects: dollhouses for our nieces, bed headboard, upcycling extra tables, entryway shelf, etc.  Then he looked around and saw all of my sewing stuff laying around and realized we had an immediate need for more storage.   He settled on a vintage looking steamer trunk.
To be honest, once he had the idea in his head the pilot started the project and did not stop until it was finished.  Even though he didn't bother to write down the steps he did, I am very proud to say that he did remember to take a few photos along the way...
Luckily he had access to use his dad's man cave / garage / workshop.
40% coupon to JoAnn Fabrics hook-up for the feux leather :)

Only had to stain the two sides because he used spray adhesive for the leather and then stapled it to the other two sides.
These would be used to cover the staples and finish the edges.
Close-up of the brass hardware he bought online.

Regular men's belts from JCP.  Great idea, right?!

And now the (very beautiful) finished product...

He's hooked and now wants to make more.  The awesome thing about these is that each one will be unique with a different size, different wood stains, different hardware, different leather and details, etc.  Can't wait to share with you his other creations!  He asked if this project was "Grounded Wife worthy?"  Absolutely dear :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Polish Pizza

Yes, you read that correctly.  Polish Pizza.  After a trip to my favorite post-drinking pizza place in Wrigleyville, Ian's Pizza, the pilot and I were inspired to see what type of magnificent creations we could come up with based on the old traditional pizza pie concept.  This challenge started about a year ago and through trail-and-error have found some really tasty and innovative pizza recipes.  This particular recipe is one of our favorites, based off of the pilot's favorite comfort food: polish sausage and sauerkraut.

Start with the pizza crust.  To save time, and spare yourself from having to clean, you may get an already made crust.  If you are willing to do a little extra work for a little extra delicious taste then just go to Trader Joe's and pick up a bag of their ready-to-go pizza dough and roll it out.

After he spread the dough on a lightly greased baking sheet he spread ground mustard and topped with some shredded Swiss cheese. I prefer the taste of ground mustard but you could substitute it for your favorite mustard that you would normally use with your Polish sausage. 

To save time he bought already cooked kielbasa.  To save us some guilt he bought the turkey version.  What a great husband :)

He chopped up the turkey kielbasa, spread it around the pizza and topped with a layer of canned (but drained) sauerkraut.

It's looking yummy, right?!  Well all it needs is a final layer of Swiss cheese and to be baked according to the directions for your crust.  For us it was 17 minutes at 400 degrees.  The sausage is already cooked so as soon as the crust is done and the cheese is melted to your preference, you are ready to chow down!

This is a really delicious dinner that is fun and impressive to guests.  You could even use it as an appetizer if you just cut into small slices.  Definitely one of my favorite dinners that the pilot makes me, thanks dear :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

DIY Eye Mask

I am not one of those people who makes a big deal out of their birthday, partly because I am the absolute WORST when it comes to remembering other people's birthdays.  Seriously ask my friends and family.  Facebook has made me a better friend for the pure fact that it reminds me of people's birthdays.

So when my BFF's were planning a "girl's weekend away" it was just by chance that my birthday weekend was the one we could all fit into our schedule.  That means that tomorrow morning I will be on a plane to Nashville with my four dearest girlfriends (one even flew in from San Diego!) and we will be headed for a super fun weekend... which will just happen to include using my birthday as another reason to celebrate.

Well I always have trouble sleeping places other than my own bed so I have always used a sleeping mask to help.  That was until two years ago when my adorable puppy, Milo, was the devil and chewed it apart.  So for this awesome trip to "Nashvegas" I knew I would need to get some quality sleep in and decided it was time to make myself a new sleeping mask.

First cut 2 pieces of fabric so it is 4.5" tall and about 10" wide and place on top of one another with right sides together.  (These photos are from my first attempt which resulted in a smaller mask than I wanted so don't compare the sizes to the grid on the mat.) The fabric is totally up to you but I used one piece of cottom with a design and the other piece was a solid-colored silky fabric. 
Fold in half and draw the shape you want your mask to be.  It should take up most of the fold.  Cut along the lines and lay flat.  Personally I like folding my material when I cut so it is symmetrical. 

Take an elastic band and measure it from one of your temples, wrap around the back of your head and to the other temple.  Just think about how tight you want this thing on your head.  Place the elastic in between the two fabrics and have 1" stick out.  Pin down those two end to the mask like shown in the photo below.  Pin the 2 pieces of fabric together.

Sew around the border leaving a 1/4" allowance.  Make sure to sew back-and-forth over the elastic pieces to really secure them in.  Also leave a 1" opening.  Here is a (blurry) photo of the mask sewn with the 1" opening.
Simply turn the fabric inside out.  Use a crochet hook if you need help pushing it through.
Now here is another choice you have.  Personally I like there to be a little more pressure on my eyes so I filled my mask with pillow stuffing that I had left over from another project.  However the pilot requested (yes, he got one too) that his be left flat.  Do as you choose and just hand sew the opening shut.  If you want you can also top stitch it but I left it as is.

And here is the pilot taking in a nap with his flat mask :)
After my fun filled weekend I will show you another DIY project that I am using on my trip.  Stay tuned :)
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