Month : April 2012

fettucine alfredo: the non-indulgent version!

(Photo credit: Stonyfield.com)

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a renewed interest in upping my fruits and veggies each day, and in general making lighter, healthier food choices. So I was stoked when I found a recipe that put an automatic “no no” option, back on my list of possibilities: fettucine alfredo!

I admit, I was VERY skeptical trying this recipe…I mean there are some things you just can’t cheat, and I’m pretty sure alfredo sauce is one of them.

But people – this was AMAZING! I added some spinach leaves and artichoke hearts into mine and it was every bit as good as something that I would indulge in at a pasta house. I would have never known that in place of heavy cream, I was eating a sauce based on fat free yogurt.

One note to this recipe’s instructions: my yogurt curdled the first run-through when I added it to the hot skillet, as much as I tried to turn the heat down and mix it in slowly. So I fished out the noodles and back tracked, the second time actually removing the noodles from the skillet and mixing them in a bowl with the yogurt off to the side, then adding it to the skillet on LOW heat and slowly reheating before serving. Success the second time around!

Bon appetit! 🙂

 

my office, complete!

One of my favorites spots in the house to decorate has been my office. It’s an area completely my own and I can do whatever I like to the space and don’t have to run anything past my other half (who recently shot down my longing for a hot pink coffee table when we finish the basement…I’m dead serious…but I suppose it’s understandable he’s not exactly on board).

Anyway…

The final piece for my office literally wouldn’t fit in the car during our last Ikea expedition. So without a long list of other items to pick up, we made a day trip up to the yellow and blue heaven store in Minneapolis and brought home the chair and ottoman I’ve been waiting for!

I love having a comfy spot to sit by the window and read, but I also like having a place for Page to sit. We often come into each others’ offices when the other is hard at work on a project. I sprawl out on the couch in his office and chat with him about the project or anything else that is going on. I feel like now that there’s a spot for him, he’ll be more likely to swing by my digs from time to time while I’m working. It seems like a small thing, but it helps us both continue to get work done in our freelance business, but also spend time together.

Did I mention the ottoman has storage? Always a score for me. In this case, I’m using the space to stash all of my gift wrap supplies. Minus a few rolls of paper in the closet, everything else from ribbons to tissue and gift bags to on-hand gifts fits in here.

The last thing to do in here is to find a way to add some *bling* to these letters. I would like to cover them in some kind of shiny coin or round sequin object. We’ll see what Hobby Lobby has in store for me.

Otherwise, I’m feeling like this space is complete.

I’m sure I’ll keep tweaking the details, but it’s so nice to have this room checked off my list!

(more) may flowers and bringing color into our home

 

After not being home to Cedar Rapids since August (!) Page and I made a trip to my hometown this past weekend to catch up with my parents and brother. I always love visiting my parents’ house because my mom has it decked to the nines for every season and uses so much bright and happy color. I admire anyone who can constantly have fresh eyes in their home – it’s so easy to keep something in the same old spot because that’s where it’s been for the last ten years. She is constantly editing and making changes and trying new things in new spots around the house.

I have been so anxious to start working more color into our home as I’ve gotten some ideas for each room, but have been kind of paralyzed not knowing WHICH colors I wanted to use. Inspired by our visit, a lot of decisions came into focus for me, and while I wait for some new *colorful* accessories to show up via the FedEx guy, I took on a DIY project I’ve been meaning to get around to forever…and it’s full of color and perfect for bringing our house into the spring/summer seasons!

 

 

Originally posted on Dana Made It, I love this project and have stashes of the Ikea napkins in all colors and both sizes. This would make an excellent craft for a group because the supplies are SO cheap for the big impact you get!

I added one to our kitchen pantry door…

And I’m thinking of how to arrange this coral-colored one on the wall of our powder room – since it matches the new hand towel I’m a little too obsessed with.

I want to do some sort of cluster of miscellaneous frames with both photos and quotes and work this flower in somewhere.

And a final color-related item…I’ve been devouring this book. Seriously – flipping through it time and again soaking up the hues and inspiration. I highly recommend!

Linking up with (my mom!) at BeColorful….

Becolorful

may flowers.

While we haven’t had many April showers, I am getting a jump on the may flowers bit. Last month, I mentioned that the main wall in our living room needed some colorful artwork. And while the room itself is still coming together thanks to some awesome in-progress built-ins, some artwork definitely helps to start pulling it together into a finished space.

After snagging three canvases at Hobby Lobby (hello 40% off week!) and recycling some of the leftover paint from our basement stash, I was feeling pretty good about my on-the-cheap splash of color for our living room. We obviously are digging our green in here, but it was quickly becoming a little one-sided. While yours truly is not an illustrator by ANY stretch, I can muster some swoopy lines that turn into rows and rows of petals. I also can make a mean dot or two. 🙂 Plus I was able to use up a ton of leftover paint from this project and from painting these yellow stools in our kitchen. Adding one color to another made this great warm red for the background color.

The flowers are up – spring is officially in full swing!

Building Bookcases: Part 4

It’s funny…I had originally kind of planned this whole adventure into three even posts. I see now that it will be a full series of posts because the project is way more involved than my big picture “details, schmeetails” head could wrap around.

Thankfully, the dude behind this project is way more detail-oriented than me. And despite me being down for the count the last week with a nasty cold, and our attention turning to outside spring maintenance, we’ve made some next strides in our latest installment of Bookcase Bodaciousness.

First up – Page cut a “countertop” piece as we’re calling it for each bookcase, from our 3/4 ” thick oak plywood. (And yes, a nearby whiskey was nearby for this stage. Hehe.)

To make these long cuts, he clamped a level to the master sheet of plywood to act as a guide for the circular saw.

If you’re using this technique in your own project, just know to clamp the level however far from the edge your counter depth will be (in our case, 14 “) ….

…plus whatever the distance is from the edge of your saw to the blade (in our case, it’s an even 5 ” additional).

Page used his jawhorse to hold the middle of the plywood sheet in place, but because it was so long and thin, he set up additional 2x4s at each end with extra clamps to hold the ends steady as well.

And it’s helpful to have an assistant brace the clamp that’s holding the piece that will be cut and fall away. (Please excuse my pajama attire.)

Page sanded the edges to gently round and smooth them (no sharp corners to bump into) and then I sanded and primed the counters and gave them the same two coats of paint I’ve given to the cabinets.

While I was painting, Page added shims to the cabinets (as perfect as the cuts and measurements were, the cabinets were, well, less than perfect, so to get them level requird a little finessing.)

Now you see the gaps….

…and now you don’t!

Much better, and a little caulk smoothed over the seam will make that line disappear altogether. Once in place, he screwed the shimmed cabinets into the walls for support, using wood colored screws to blend as much as possible.

One of the last steps will be to cut off the shim pieces sticking out at the bottom.

We also screwed the doors back on. By default, the single cabinet doors both opened to the right, so to balance things out between the two bookcases, we drilled new holes in one of them so the door could open left. No sense in having a cabinet in the corner that opens into the wall. We marked and drilled holes in each door using the same amazing four-dollar wonder tool we bought when adding our kitchen cabinet hardware. They make these for doors and drawers and have been life savers!

The piece on the end is a 1/4 ” plywood to end-cap the units and will be one of the last pieces to go in, but you can get the idea here. I caulked the seams in each of the cabinet doors, which, once hung, showed a few gaps in paint, since the center panel shifts oh-so-slightly and could only be fixed so well with paint alone. The caulk made a huge difference – wish I had a before to compare to the afters!

Next up will be adding backboard and of course the shelving to both sides, then a bunch of trim to both the shelves and the bottom of the bases to finish it all off. It sounds like a relatively short list…we’ll see how long it takes us. 🙂 I’m already thrilled that I can put the shelves back in the cabinets and start loading them up…I’ve been daydreaming about all the stuff I can now stash in here!

[Note: You can read ALL of the “Building Bookcases” post series here!]

spring (break)

No…we didn’t take a spring vacation. Our staycation is right here at the house. But we’ve had to “break” for Spring and put a hold on any other projects since, after an already unseasonably warm winter, spring (in Iowa!) started several weeks early…and skipped right into 80+ temps.

Don’t get me wrong – we are NOT complaining. I am more than happy to skip drizzly cold March and April worrying about that last “freak” snow storm of the season in favor of grilling on our deck and rediscovering my flip flops. And Page is definitely okay with an extra-long golf season. But the surprise jump-start on the season left us scrambling to get a plan for our sod which was planted while still dormant last December. Suddenly, we were responsible for actually doing something with it. (And I use “we” lightly here – this plan was all Page).

It started with the damn-another-expense purchase of a mower and trimmer. Although there is something to be said for a dude’s first mower, and inaugural mowing of his first lawn haha.  I couldn’t resist sneaking out for an iPhone pic to capture.

Then came the hoses and the sprinklers with the idea being that we’d have enough to run everything at once – no dragging the sprinkler around the yard every half hour each evening (good thinking, babe). The plus for us being in Waukee is that the city offers water meters for outdoor water use. We installed them on both faucets and every year, you call in the reading and get a refund for any outdoor water you were billed for, since it doesn’t have to go through sewer treatment. Our neighbors said they’ve received nearly 500 dollars back after a year of use, so we made sure we got ourselves the hook-up on that one – we’ll need it I’m sure after this first year of watering. Everyone keeps cautioning us about how much water new sod requires!

With a plan for the yard in place, the next thing to think about is some landscaping out front. My friend, Tara, has been kind enough to lend me a small library of books on what to plant based on where we live and what requires the least maintenance (yes, please). We’re thinking an L-shaped bed of shrubs and flowers around this left corner of the house, and adding solar lights (just sitting in the garage, waiting to be installed). Yes, another project. At this rate we could USE a week of spring vacation, just to get caught up or even (gasp) ahead!

And while it pales in comparison, I did try to do my part to get the house a bit more ready for spring…

…aka I spent five minutes hanging up a different wreath and swapped the flowers in the entryway vase. 🙂 Hey – I have other projects to get to!

Happy spring – and Easter – to all!