Monday, May 31, 2010

Wicked Good Brownies

We had a quiet Memorial Day today, and just hung around the house. My sister-in-law Magdalena made these brownies recently, and I had to get the recipe. I made these today. Yummmm!

Wicked Good Brownies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 pan. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and place in a bowl. Stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in cocoa, flour, salt and baking powder. *Do not over mix this batter.*

Spread batter into 8x8 prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
Now eat the Best. Brownies. Ever.

Linking to: All Things Related

Monday, May 24, 2010

Declutter Challenge for a Monday: Plastic Containers

I decided it was time to clean out my plastic containers. Some of them were old, old, old and not sealing very well. We did some research and settled on a set of Rubbermaid Premier containers. These can be purchased at Target

I love them! We bought a set of 20 and purchased a few extra large pieces separately. These pieces are very sturdy, they resist stains and odors, and seal very well.

No, I'm not being paid to talk about this, I just love these!

I decided to clean out this cabinet and put my new containers here. I love how they nest for easy storage. My old containers didn't nest very well, and would spill all over the place. I'm still working on the two shelves above this.

Do you have a cabinet with containers that needs to be cleaned out? You may simply need to clean out and organize your drawer or cabinet. If you are in the market for new food containers though, I highly recommend these.

The "plastic food container" part of a kitchen always seems to be the worst area. If yours needs help, see what you can do in 15 minutes...ready, set, go!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Just So You Know... kitchen doesn't always look like this:

Here's what it looked like today, because I JUST didn't feel like cleaning up after breakfast. OR lunch. And then of course it got worse after dinner time.
I did put the tomato and some other food away. But the dishes? Meh. I'll do 'em later...

Linking to: Not Just a Housewife

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Pathway is Complete

Handy Man has been doing tons of outside work lately, since the weather is finally nice. There are always indoor projects to do, but lately we are on an outdoor kick!

Rob finished the stones leading up to the front stairs. He is glad that the job is done.

Last year, Rob made some mulch beds in front of the house, and added some small bushes. The mulch is rubber, so it doesn't rot or disintegrate. It does settle a bit over time. I think it looks pretty realistic. We could use to add a bit more mulch this year. I guess I'll add it to the "Honey Do" list!

You can see the progress of our pathway in these posts:

Linking up to: Censational Girl/ A Soft Place to Land

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Staining the Decks

We have three decks of varying sizes attached to our house. A few years ago, the original decks had paint or stain (all not matching, of course) that were in varying stages of peeling.

Rob wanted to replace all of the decks with Trex decking. However, the cost was SO high, he decided to stain the decks with a light gray stain. That first job was a lot of work: Rob had to scrape down a lot of peeled paint on each deck, then stain the floors, and the rails, etc. When spring came this year, he knew he had to re-stain the floors of the decks. The rails looked fine, but the floors needed help.

Here's one shot of the "before"...there were many spots even worse than this; winter and all the snow and ice can be harsh on decks:

To make the job easier, Handy Man used a roller to do most of the work. He used a small brush to get into spots he couldn't get to with the roller.

 Front steps: all done! It only took one coat.

"During" on the back deck.

Side deck and stairs.

Do you have any decks or stairs that need maintenance? It can be a huge job. Has anyone used Trex before?

Linking up to: Between Naps on the Porch

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Scrapbook Table

I've been scrapbooking since 1998, and over the years I've used various tables and desks to work on. We decided that since I do SO much scrapbooking, I needed a better set up. We went to an unfinished furniture store in our area, and bought this: a kitchen island.

Handy Man brought it home and finished it with polyurethane for me. He also reinforced the bottom, and put rubber wheels on it so I could move it around. I can move it into the living room and watch a movie while I scrap.

Believe me, my scrap surface is NOT this clean all the time! I try to start out this way, so I can find everything...but it ends up covered in pages and paper and photos, etc. The zippered case on the left holds blades and cutting system patterns. The long, black case in the middle stores stickers. The tall black case on the right stores paper. 

On the left is my 12" Making Memories trimmer , and the pages I'm working on are right in front of me. I also put the small trimmer to my right. The blue and white item on the surface is my Ott light. These lights are great for giving good, clear light for scrapping or any kind of crafting.

On the side of the island facing us, there is an overhang that is hard to see in the photo. I bought a bar-height chair that I can sit on that brings me right up to the table so I can sit in a good position to scrap.
I bought these baskets from the unfinished furniture store; they were reasonably priced, and fit perfectly. Inside them I store my EZ runner and other adhesives; large and small punches, extra cutting templates etc. etc. I can pick up a basket and put it on the surface while using it.

The back of the unit, which has shelves for storage: I usually store my photo boxes in there, and bags and cases that I use when transporting my stuff to a crop. I also store 12x12 page refills, and 12x12 pages that are in progress. I do have to pull the whole unit from the wall to get around to the back, but that is easy because of the wheels. Plus, I store things in there that I don't need to access every time I scrap.

These are the shelves opposite the basket shelves. Handy Man thought I should get more square baskets, but I wanted larger areas to store big items. I store memorabilia in here, stamps (which I don't use that much yet), and oversize memorabilia and such that won't fit elsewhere. I may get more square baskets eventually, but for now I like the more open storage here.

Above each side (where the baskets and large memorabilia are stored), I have small drawers. One side holds pens and a few extra blades; and the other side stores miscellaneous photos.

That's a tour of my scrapbook table. Right now, the surface is a mess, because I've been sorting some photos and memorabilia, but before I get to working, I'll clean it off. This holds most of the things I use to scrap. I do have some extra albums and pages in a closet elsewhere, because if I stored them here I'd have no room for my little things.But this table really contains all of the things I use when I'm scrapping.

I am also very careful when I think about buying something new; I think about where it would go on or in my table. I'm selective, because I do not want to outgrow this table. I want everything to be self-contained on here.

It can be hard to store crafts that have a lot of supplies (like scrapbooking, stamping, sewing, etc.) If you have a craft area and it is a huge mess, work on whittling down the amount of "stuff" you have. You can ask local schools if they would take donations of craft items. Think about different ways you can store your craft things.

This wasn't the cheapest option, but over the years I have struggled with storage, and having a large enough surface, so it was worth it to me to buy this piece of furniture. Handy Man thought about buying wood to make me something similar, but it turns out that buying all new wood would have cost more than buying this island and refinishing it!

Do you have a craft or hobby area? What is it like?

Linking to: Scissors and Spatulas/ Between Naps on the Porch/ Miss Mustard Seed/Organize and Decorate Everything

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New Stone Pathway, Part 3

Part 3 of putting in the new stone pathway:

Repeat parts 1 and 2 over and over and over. Handy Man says there are only 10 stones left to put in.
The grass is starting to green up a lot, too. We've had a decent amount of rain, mixed in with a lot of sun.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Boy's Room is Clean (for the moment)!

So! It took some time on and off over 3 days, but Handy Boy and I finished cleaning up his room!

This bookcase is from my childhood. My dad made it for us, and behind the dolls on the top shelf it says "1 2 3" and "P Q R."

I guess when I was learning the alphabet, my favorite letters were "P Q R" and I used to repeat that a lot.
The antique desk is something that Handy Man and I bought before we even had Handy Boy. He loves to sit at the desk and color, draw and play Legos. Sometimes he does homework on it. He usually does his homework in the kitchen.
Handy Boy's closet is a masterpiece inside! I will show how Handy Man built special shelves in the closet some time, to store all of Handy Boy's "stuff." I just wanted a picture of the floor that will stay clean for about 5 minutes.

No picture of his bed at the moment, because I was washing sheets and blankets.

Oh, and the Wicked Big Lego Project? That was sort of put on hold for a while, since we've all been taking turns being sick and such. But we do hope to get back to it, eventually. Handy Boy still loves his Legos, and he's been good about keeping the sorted ones organized.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Declutter Challenge for a Monday

Here's a project I've been working on lately. I thought it would make a good Monday Decluttering Challenge. I've been going through clothes and cleaning out and organizing some closets. 

This is a picture of The Boy's closet. He has grown like a WEED lately, and I had to get him all new jeans and pull out some shirts that don't fit. There's not much left! I left a few long-sleeved shirts, but I will have to buy more of those in the fall.
Don't worry about Handy Boy, we have stocked up on plenty of shorts and Spongebob t-shirts for the summer. He is finally able to wear shorts, now that the weather has warmed up.

Over short amounts of time on different days, I went through the Boy's closet and his dresser. Each time, I had him try on a few things. Of course he moaned and groaned, but it was the only way I could be sure of what fits or not, since he's grown so much lately. I put several items into bags for donation, and organized what was left.

This was a pretty easy project, since The Boy doesn't have a lot of clothes. Do you have a closet you could go through? I think kids' closets can either be a nightmare or pretty easy, depending on how many clothes they have. If you have a large closet cleaning project to do, don't do it all at once! 

Just do one section per day, over a week or two. It will still get done, and you won't have to devote a whole Saturday to it. Place two bags near the closet: put donations into one, and put clothes you want to give to a friend's child in the other bag. Ready, set, GO!
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