Thursday, July 28, 2011

Easy Chicken Pasta Salad Recipe

I recently graduated into my 2nd trimester and gained my appetite back! In my house, it's been takeout and fast food for weeks...(my poor family). The first recipe I was craving was this delicious one! Yummy Chicken Pasta Salad.
Here's how you can make it too. 
Pour a drained can of pineapple tidbits into a bowl. 
Chop up some green onion. (These were from my garden! Yay.) 
Toss it in with the pineapple.
Wash, pluck and half red and green grapes. Love those colors! Are you as ready for the holidays as I am? 
Add craisins for more texture. 
Grill up some boneless skinless chicken. Put that in the bowl. 
Boil up some Bowtie Pasta...(or as my friend would say it: Boat-ee Pasta). 
Whip up the Ranch-n-Mayo mixture. 
Mix in with the other ingredients. Let chill in fridge to let the flavors marry.
Top with some salted cashews before serving...
And scarf!
Easy huh! This recipe makes some awesome leftovers, and is great to take to potlucks, showers and brunches...ALL year long!

Chicken Pasta Salad
1 small can Pineapple Tidbits, drained
6 green onions, chopped
1 cup red grapes, halved
1 cup green grapes, halved
1 regular bag Craisins, (any flavor)
1 large seasoned chicken breast, grilled and chopped into bite size pieces
1 box (12 oz.) Bowtie Pasta, cooked and drained
1 can Cashews, salted or unsalted (I prefer salted)
1 cup Mayo
3/4 cup Ranch

Mix 'dry' ingredients together. Do not add cashews until just before serving. They tend to get soggy if left in the fridge. Mix dressing ingredients in a seperate bowl, stir a couple of spoonful's of dressing with salad ingredients until you reach desired consistency. For this recipe I only used 4 spoonful's of dressing. Let chill before serving! Enjoy!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Project: Bathroom Vanity Lighting

At the beginning of the summer we moved our little family from out of state, back to my hometown area.  My husband has just finished his masters degree and we are in the 'hunt for a good job' mode.  My brother has a rental home that just so conveniently happened to be available we are.  I just keep trying to tell myself "I have lots of projects to post on the blog about now!"  Haha - really I am grateful.  And, after all, one of the reasons my brother was so excited about me moving in is that I could "help" him fix it up. I think we both know there won't be much helping going on.  I'm just to impatient to wait for it!

There are some pretty major projects, the not-too-costly-just-time-consuming kind, that will probably be happening in the coming months.  You know, the back window someone decided to spray paint black (yes, the glass) a good decade or so ago thats all peeling off now, the green/silver/white spray paint down the stairs to the basement, the sad but huge yard......
*in my brother's defense, he's only owned the house about a year* 
Some days I feel like my mind is about to explode with all the ideas I have!!  So the other day I just had to do SOMETHING.  My first victim became the vanity lighting fixture :0)
 Seeing it every day was driving me a bit mad, and I decided to do something about it.  Don't sweat the taking it down, really, it was easier than rounding up the newspaper to paint it over!
 Washed and ready for a make-over!

 Because all of this is a learning process for many of us, I'm going to share my mistakes.  All of the hardware in the bathroom is wood (ie - the cheapest you can get).  The only other metal fixture (besides the faucet) is the shower curtain rod, so I wasn't too terribly worried about matching.  But I didn't want anything outrageous either.  I looted my dad's spray paint collection and there was one with a pretty shiny silver lid - just like my vanity looked...before the rust set in.  In my naiveté I thought that's how it would look when I used it.  So!
Lesson #1: Silver spray paint will make it look like a silver car - not a silver bathroom fixture :0)
So I settled for some brownish copper hammered look and it works!  New for $40-$90 or Better for $3.  In this situation the better worked beautifully!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Project: Distressing furniture

This is what my bar stool has looked like for the past 6 months. Something needed to be done...
I tried a black spray paint and I did not think that it was enough, I wanted more color.
Remember that most wood projects need to be sanded down, if there is a glossy surface, it needs to come off in order to make the paint stick.
So I decided on "summer squash" yellow :)

After spraypainting both chairs, I allowed 24 hours to dry.

I used this homemade distressing concoction of black and brown acrylic paint. I then added water to make it really drippy! Once I painted the drippy paint over one section, I smoothed and rubbed it around with paper towels. I had a wet rag on hand to smooth mistakes. Acrylic paint is fairly forgiving, but you still have to work fast!
Look at the difference in detail! So cool!

I still need to put a coat of poly on it, but I love how the yellow looks with my black countertops...

My next distressing project is my china cabinet. Be ready for a "Tropicana Cabana" surprise!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Project: Barbie House

It needs shingles, I have to finish the comforters and pillows for the nursery and I have to get the rest of the fun furniture and accessories from my moms house (for the patio and kid room and such). But other than that :) ITS DONE!! I am so glad now that my mom convinced me to hang onto the plethora of barbie junk I had as a kid. Its so handy now!

The Process
I have really been wanting to get my girls a barbie house for a while now. I kept scouring the stores and craigslist and on and on but everything is just....well.....not what I wanted. All plasticky and 'I'm gonna break in two seconds' kind of stuff. AND they want $100 or more for said junk. So the girls and I decided we would make one together. My original thought was to convert a bookcase, which I'd seen done all over the internet, but the shelves are just to short and too shallow. I wanted it to actually feel like it was a 'house', no Harry Potters here (sleeping in the closet)! So we took a trip to Goodwill looking for something to convert and brought home this
Perfect!! And $5 baby!! I was pretty excited. The shelves are just the right height for barbies!! Apparently entertainment centers work a little better than bookshelves for this sort of thing :0) Note: when you are looking for something to convert the shelves need to be at least 13 inches apart or the barbies won't be able to stand up. These shelves are about 13.5" from the top of one to the bottom of the next.

SO! I got to work. I started by sanding down all the shelves and spray painting the sides and ceilings black. I then taped off the sides of the top two curved shelves and spray painted the tops with stone spray paint. That stuff is awesome by the way! I decided I really wanted to make wood floors for the living room and kitchen. I had popsicle sticks on hand and they were the perfect proportion for a barbie! I wasn't the best at taking pictures of the process.
But my husband decided he needed to document the time I was spending on the darn hardwood floor. Haha. It wouldn't have been so bad if I had figured out a bit sooner that I could cut those puny popsicle sticks with a pair of scissors. Huge time saver! But each piece was cut and sanded to fit the rounded corners and everything. It was like a giant puzzle. It was kind of fun to see it start coming together.
Tah Dah! Finished
Living Room Floor
I got these squares for a couple of bucks at the craft store.
Kitchen floor
I am completely in love with it!! Just to re-iterate. Use wood glue for the wood floors. I got lazy in the end and used hot glue for some of the squares and they are starting to come off. So now I wood glue them as they come off! Much easier if you just do it right the first time :)

I'm sure I probably had fabric I could use, but I decided to take the girls to the fabric store and let them pick all the material. And since you only need like 1/8 -1/4 yard of anything that doesn't cost much either. We picked 2-3 fabrics for each bedroom and the living room. I used them to cover the couches, make the rug, pillows, comforters, etc. Then I picked some scrapbook paper from my collection that matched for the wall paper. I just modge-podged the paper on the wood. If you are bothered by the seams you could also use butcher paper or something along those lines and color/paint it before you attach it. That might cause problems with modge-podge and running colors, but if you use a spray adhesive or something you could avoid that problem as well.

We picked up some carpet scraps from a local carpet store for $1 and glued them down in the bedrooms. I didn't take a close-up of the patio(s) but they look like cement. My original plan was to use the squares like the living room floor and spray them to look like stone and piece them together all fancy, but I decided to simplify. Again - Love the stone spraypaint - its awesome!
What it looked like before I tackled the roof and back wall. It was finally starting to come together! The girls weren't allowed to look at it anymore once I started putting it back together. There had to be SOME sort of a surprise!

I am no mathematician, (don't let my straight A's in Calculus fool you, I am very good at remembering things ONLY as long as I need to) and honestly I'm not much experienced in wood cutting and all that jazz, so its far from perfect. I cut a big rectangle that covered the bottom floors, then a triangle that went behind the top. I used 1"x 1" sticks, cut to size to attach the roof pieces to each other and the back wall. I needed something to nail into! The reason why I made the little railing things to support the roof is because I didn't want to go to the store and get thicker wood for walls and have to figure out how to attach it all. Lazy much? I already had the dowels and 1"x 1" I just made use of them. Drilled holes in the sticks and in the floors and stuck in a little wood glue - viola!! Honestly it was probably more work than it would have been to just go to the store, but I think I like the end result better :) Once the glue dried they were stuck firm, and then attaching the roof and back....they aren't going anywhere!
I made the couches from craft foam wrapped with fabric and hand sewed them together. The plant is a bunch of leaves from the flowers I've been making for the girls hair all hot glued together and stuck in a petshop bucket of some sort to keep it standing. To make the clock I used spray adhesive (love that stuff) and covered a CD with scrapbook paper and stamped numbers, drew hands etc. The girls decided what time it should say. I guess they like 9:30. The rug is just made out of felt. I also spray adhesive-d some black felt to the bottom half of the wall as well as a silver pipe cleaner for good measure.
This was the room my 8 year old picked the fabric for. She didn't want ALL the rooms to be pink! (the 6 year old did) We stamped some flowers on the wall and I found the little dresser at Hobby Lobby and stained it. I made the beds from leftover wood from the roof and some cute little pegs (Hobby Lobby as well). I seriously laid a barbie on the wood and cut a rectangle that I thought looked about the right size, then duplicated it! I drilled little holes for the pegs to hammer into and added some wood glue before I put them in. The mattresses are craft foam covered in fabric like the couches.
This little picture frame was one of the things the girls got from my brother and his wife for Christmas and we decided it would fit perfectly. We found some pictures of barbies on the internet, prettied up the frame and stuck it to the wall!
The kitchen furniture was mine when I was little. It was at my moms (900 miles away) when I picked the background paper so it doesn't match perfectly, but it could be worse! There are more chairs but the girls lost the extra rungs that I was going to glue back in to make them more sturdy and until we find them I'd rather the chairs not be broken beyond repair!
Some more of my stuff. Can you tell!! HAHA!! Every time I look at it it makes me giggle. Check out that Cam-corder. Baha. The girls have dubbed this as their exercise room....and added the silver pipe cleaner :0) I have some patio furniture and a grill and a kid swing and such at my moms that is meant to go on the patios, but this works for now!
The garage. Nothing much else could fit down here. It works out - and there is plenty of room for my Vespa whenever I get to getting it from my mom.
The kids room. The bunk beds were essentially made exactly like the bigger beds. The piano is a $3 Goodwill find that my friend Elise found for me. It is a music box and the girls think its great. I still haven't decided if this room is entirely finished (obviously its missing the bedding, but besides that) We'll see if I come up with anything. Windows are just too much work!
The middle pegs are drilled in, the feet are just glued on.
The bedding. Really I just have to stuff and edge, but thats the part that takes forever! Haha....well kind of -
The quilting on this pattern took a bit too. The other fabric I could just get away with a grid. I guess thats what I get for making the comforters reversible!
And, so you don't have to scroll back up, this is what it looks like now.

I think it would have looked better if I had used a thicker wood for the roof (to match the shelves) but there again, I was using the wood that I had. Shingles (big popsicle sticks) should help bulk it up a bit.

So there is my barbie house project. Its sturdy, thats for sure! And I don't think they'll be breaking any of it anytime soon. They LOVE it. I didn't spend near the $100 I would have on the secondhand ones (unless you count my new sander, but I don't think it counts). And it was fun to be busy working on a project again. Its been too long. I am so excited to get back into my crafting. I just love it!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Project: How to Save a Little Dough!

First of all, I would like to start off this "How To:" with a brief testimonial-
I love this idea!
I have discovered and re-discovered many of my
super crazy spending habits.
It will change the way you look at your money,
what you can live without vs. what you really need.
PLUS-this is a great opportunity to rotate food storage,
it gives you a real reason to use canned food items before their expiration date :)
I first heard about the idea from HERE

Rules to a "no-EXTRA-spend" month:
  1. You have to spend money on bills, medical needs, tithes, food, and gas...there is no getting around it :)
  2. The ONLY shopping-is for groceries and hygiene items.
  3. Meal preparation should be frugal, yet complete.
    1. Recipes requiring items from the garden, food storage, and pantry are encouraged :)
    2. Meal planning is a must, every meal will have to be from the grocery store.
    3. Restuarants are definitely OFF the menu.
  4. Entertainment can be tricky...anything that costs money, is a no no.
    1. Recreational spending such as gas for ATV's, Boating, Sunday drives, movie rental/tickets count as EXTRA spending and are therefore, not allowed.
    2. Traveling, unless for Dr. appointments, is also considered EXTRA spending.
    3. Remember: board games, cards, hiking, biking, walks, the library, any sport/games with the family, friend's movie collections, etc. are all FREE!
  5. The money saved, goes to the Savings account!
    1. Do not just roll over your money to next month's spending budget. Put it away and use it for Christmas, braces, tires, medical bills etc.
You have to be commited! You have to get the WHOLE family to buy into the idea, allowing everyone to help make it work! You will be surprised at how easy it is to put things into your cart, or how much money you spend to enterain yourselves, and just how many dishes you will have to clean because ALL of your meals are made in your own kitchen!

Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Project: Magnet Board Redo!

I spent all of 20 minutes redo-ing this red/car magnet board...
I just repainted it black, stickers and all, hammered the frame back on, and added a bow.
I wanted to sand the edges, but because I didn't sand it originally, I didn't want the red to see through.
Remember this yardsale find?

Here it is now-with a new look!


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Project: Red, White and Blue Drink!

The 4th of July is one of my absolute favorite holidays to celebrate!
Enjoy yours too!

Red, White and Blue Drink
Fill clear cup with ice
Pour in Cranberry Juice
Pour in Blue Powerade/Gatorade
Pour Sprite Zero on top
Tip: Pour directly on a piece of ice, the colors stay seperate nicer. :0)
Another Tip: You can do this with any drink, just be sure to pour the drink with the most sugar content first...

A great 4th of July drink for the kids to whip up too!

Project: Recycle!

I don't know about you guys, but I have went through various ways to get my recycling in order. I am a huge believer in all things "Save the World," so my battle with the recycling bins has been somewhat crazy! I have done plastic bags under the sink, I have done crates in the shop, I have done laundry baskets...but all of them look terrible and take up soooo much space.

So I decided that the laundry basket was only half right- Walmart has this "el-cheapo" (my husband the Spanish teacher is not impressed with my word invention...) laundry separater for 10 bucks. I lined them with trash bags, labeled each one with cutsie paper and a safety pin and there you have it...
a space saving recycling bin!
Mine fits nice and cozy in my laundry room...

*Because we don't have recycling pick-up where I live, I choose a site where all the proceeds go to our city celebration of "Peach Days" and to our Little League programs. Save the world and then some!