How to Turn an $8 Bouquet into Flowers for the Whole House

Cheap-Flowers-for-whole-houseThere is nothing that accessorizes a house better than fresh flowers.  My husband thinks they are a total waste of money because they only last a week.  I finally reasoned with him that flowers for me are like beer for him; they probably are both a total waste of money, but they just make us happy.

I don’t mind “wasting” money on flowers, but I still try to make a every dollar count.  On Saturday’s I like to pick up a bouquet of flowers at the Farmer’s Market.  They have bouquets for $10, $15 and $20, but if you give them a random dollar amount, they’ll make you a bouquet to fit the price.  I usually do my produce shopping first and then buy the flowers with whatever cash I have left over (this helps keep it in our budget).

I like to take the bouquet and split it up into smaller arrangements, so I can spread the flowers throughout the house.  This is how I do it:

This week, we had $8 after our shopping and I asked them to put me together a bouquet with dahlias and hydrangeas.

fresh-flowersThis is the bouquet they made me.

$8-flowers-updatedThese are my flowers from last week’s $8 bouquet and while most of it has died off, some of the flowers and foliage were still salvageable.

dead-flowersI started by removing all of the dead flowers and throwing them into the compost.

remove-dead-flowersThe remaining flowers and foliage look like this.

diy-flower-foodThen I rinse out all of the vases and replace the water with this DIY recipe for flower food.  I use 1 quart water to 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice.  You can use white vinegar in place of the lemon juice, but I was out.

fresh-flower-arrangementsThen I separate the flowers into smaller bouquets.  Using vases with narrow necks use less flowers.  I also have mini vases that I use for small arrangements in small places (like the bathroom).  I try to keep each arrangement to 2 or 3 colors, that way they all look a little different.

entry-flowersHere is the one in our entry way…

dining-room-flowers our dining room…backyard-flowersour patio for a BBQ with friends (later moved to my kitchen window sill)…

breakfast-nook-flowersour breakfast nook…

bathroom-flowersour bathroom…

guest-room-flowersand finally, a single stem in our guest room/office.

This pretty much puts a vase in every room on our main floor, which really brightens up my week!  I don’t get flowers EVERY week, but when we do get them, it’s nice to know that a little can go a long way.

Here’s to a delightful week!

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Reclaimed Wood String Art: The finishing touches on our dining room

reclaimed-wood-string-artFor months I have been trying to figure out what to do with our big blank dining room wall.  I knew I wanted something textural and was slightly obsessed with these mega doily rugs that Woonwinkel (an amazing local home and gift shop) has hanging on their wall.

Since I am lacking the funds of $2000 for doily rug wall hangings, I decided to get creative.  I was first introduced to string art by my friend Jenny’s roommate who made an amazing piece shaped like the state of Oregon with a heart where Portland is (similar to this).

When my husband wasn’t thrilled with the idea of nailing close to 100 nails in the wall, I decided to brainstorm other options.  I liked the thought of using reclaimed wood, but was worried it would clash with our dining room table.

reclaimed-woodThen one day I was backing out of our garage and a magical light shined down on this big pile of junk.  We had brought all this wood into the garage from the side of the house when we bought the house in December.  I meant to throw it away, but wasn’t really sure how to go about disposing of 8 ft. wood boards that I can’t fit in my car.

In this case, my lack of initiative came in handy as these worn white wood boards were EXACTLY what I needed for my project.

dirty-wood-reclaimedUnfortunately, they were a hot mess.  There was moss and dirt caked on and they needed a lot of cleaning up.

clean-reclaimed-woodI vacuumed up the the majority of the mess and then wiped it down with a solution of Dawn soap and water that I put into a squirt bottle.  Most of it came off with a sponge, but there were some tough spots that I had to use a scrub brush to get loose.  I also did a second wash with Murphy Oil Soap, but probably didn’t need to.

connect-reclaimed-wood-slabsI lined up the boards a bunch of different ways until I was happy with the arrangement. I wanted to make sure the little notches in the wood and the wood patterns were balanced. Then I flipped them all over (carefully not to mix them up) and marked where I would drill the holes.

I used metal braces to attach the boards to one another.  I probably could have used another strip of wood, but I wanted it to be as flat as possible.  I predrilled the holes and then screwed in the plates.

connect-reclaimed-woodThis is what the boards looked like (on the back) when I had them all attached with the metal braces.  I repeated this pattern on the other side of the boards, so I used 6 metal braces to attach the 4 wood boards.

hang-reclaimed-woodBecause it was so big (four feet long)  and heavy, I decided to use two picture hangers on the backside.  I measured where I wanted to attach them on the wall first and then measured the corresponding places on the board. I measured down 2 inches from the top for each hanger so they would be level with each other.

project-trace-reclaimed-wood-string-artIf you follow my Instagram account, you may already know that I scored an amazing deal on an overhead projector recently.  I got this idea from Barb Blair’s new book Furniture Makeovers and I have to say, I am pleased with the results.  So much easier than stenciling!  If only I had this when I made my Father’s Day beer crate

So I hung the reclaimed wood on the wall and projected the image I wanted to create onto the wood.  Then I lightly traced the image with a pencil.

nail-design-string-artI then took it outside and nailed some flat-headed nails into it, starting at all the angle points and then filling in along the lines as needed. *It is important to use nails with heads so the string doesn’t slip off the nail. Don’t use finishing nails.

knot-string-artI made a slip knot so I could get it nice and tight around the nail.  Once it was tight, I trimmed the end.

outline-string-artUp until this point, the project was pretty smooth sailing.  Getting the string work right was a little trickier than I thought.  I wish I could say I got it right on the first try, but I’d be lying.  

I started out using yellow embroidery thread (luckily it was just some spare that I had laying around) but it was so thin, the graphic didn’t really make an impact and being such a pale yellow, you could barely even see it at night.

I upgraded to a pale yellow yarn, but it still wasn’t bold enough.  I finally figured out how to make it stand out by “outlining” the letters first by wrapping the yarn around the outside of the block letter multiple times to create an “edge.” Then, I simply continued the string criss-crossing through the middle of the letters to get the “fill” effect.

reclaimed-wood-string-art-DIYI am super proud of my reclaimed wood string art piece and I am so excited to share it with you!  For about $20 I brought in a lot more color to my dining room and created a piece we really enjoy.  My 20-month-old son keeps walking by it and saying, “EAT!” which is more than enough gratitude for me!

3 Things You Never Knew About Concrete (and what $3000 worth of concrete looks like)

Almost two months ago I told you about the notice we received from the City of Portland to have our sidewalk fixed.  It was a huge bummer, as concrete work is pricey and it pushed back a number of other projects that we had “waiting in the wings” to complete.

Here is what our sidewalk looked like at the time:

cracked-sidewalk

The city doesn’t really leave a lot of “wiggle room” with their notice.  They tell you what needs to be repaired and give you 90 days to fix it or they fix it themselves and send you the (hefty) bill.  It was obvious that it would be more affordable to hire a contractor to do the work for us, the only problem was finding a contractor to do the job.

No one really wanted to do this job because it is so difficult to work with the city.  We wanted to do the driveway, stairs and porch as well, but it would have required hiring an architect, structural engineer, etc.

We scaled the project back to just the sidewalk (but the FULL sidewalk, instead of just patching the areas that were busted) and the FULL approach (where you drive up, but not the driveway).

Sidewalk-Repair

I was crushed that my little man was napping when the concrete truck came to pour.  He spent the entire day prior watching them break up the concrete and he would have LOVED to see the big truck in our yard.

Sidewalk-Repair-Concrete-Pour

Once the pouring began, these two men began spreading it around and leveling it out.  They had to work quickly before it set.  It was pretty amazing to watch!

New-Sidewalk

Here is the finished sidewalk. And here are a couple things I never realized about concrete:

  1. Concrete comes out easier than you would think.  I expected them to show up with jackhammers, but they broke up the whole sidewalk using a stake and a sledgehammer. They also had a caterpillar that moved the large pieces once broken up, but the removal stage only took about an hour.
  2. Those “boxes” are not really separate pieces. It seems obvious now, but I guess I just never really thought about it before. It’s really just one huge piece of concrete and then they “segment” it by making lines with a stick (literally) before it dries.
  3. It takes a while to “fully” dry. Although we could walk on the sidewalk just a few short days after they poured it, I couldn’t drive on the approach for a week! This meant, no parking in the garage/driveway for a full week.

New-Sidewalk-Approach

Here is our new “approach” that is making a mockery of our driveway.

Finished-New-SidewalkAnd here is the full view!  You are welcome pedestrians!

Finished-New-Sidewalk-After $3000 later, we have a glorious sidewalk to look at.  (It still breaks my heart a little that we spent $3K on a SIDEWALK of all things, but I try to make the best of it and it does look a ton better. Not 3k better, but better).

Baby steps…

Camping at Olallie Lake + Free Camping Pack List Printable

Since moving to Portland, OR we haven’t really spent much time out of the city.  We are so in love with this town, that we never really feel the need to “get away,”  but we have been meaning to spend more time exploring Oregon, so when my friend Becky suggested a joint-family camping trip to Olallie Lake Resort, I was super excited.

Traditionally, I don’t consider cabin-camping to be “camping,” but considering we’ve never even stayed in a hotel room with our little buddy, staying in a one-room, 150 square foot cabin seemed “rustic” enough.  That and our old camping tent is definitely too small for the three of us.

I eagerly booked a cabin and mailed (you read that right, as in with a postage stamp) a check to the owners and awaited the weeks for our big “camping” trip.  The accommodations were great.  The facilities were clean and rustic.  Each cabin included an old-school wood burning stove that kept us nice and toasty at night.  Wood is even included with your room fee and they deliver more to your cabin each afternoon.  All the cabins have amazing views of the lake and Mt. Jefferson and the resort has paddle boats and row boats that you can rent by the hour or for the entire day.

Our little man did surprisingly well on the trip, sleeping in until 9am the first morning and almost 7am on the second day.  He is regularly up at 6am at home, so this really made it feel like a vacation.  Traveling with another family really made the trip enjoyable as we split up meal duties, with each family responsible for one breakfast and one dinner (everyone was on their own for lunch).  The best part of the trip was that there was absolutely no cell coverage or wifi and “unplugging” for three days was unbelievably relaxing.  Our weekend trip felt like a week’s worth of rest.

I remembered to pack our swim suits, but forgot to pack towels, so we didn’t get our swim on during the trip.  Frustrated with my mistake, I created a camping pack list, so on our next trip, I won’t miss a thing.  I included the free printable below.  Feel free to use it for your own camping adventures!

There were many photos taken on the trip, but I feel like these eleven best illustrate the overall vibe of the lake and our trip:

IMG_4302

Our friend David and his daughter on a relaxing paddle boat ride.IMG_4315

The DIY boat dock and collection of boats.  That’s me in the distance!IMG_4320

My husband, Jason hard at work cooking this dinner recipe by The Country Cat‘s Adam Sappington.IMG_4339

A family photo opt in front of Mt. Jefferson.  We couldn’t resist kissing those cheeks!IMG_4354

Jason and our little man cooling off at Lower Lake.IMG_4358

Little buddy was thrilled to go all in at Lower Lake.  Olallie Lake is a no-swim lake, but there are other lakes for swimming close by.IMG_4401

Fun on the boat dock.IMG_4414

Seeing my son enjoy good-old-fashioned pastimes like blowing bubbles and throwing rocks into the lake melted my heart.  The iPad has not ruined him yet!
IMG_4416

My husband snapped this shot of me in front of Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_4425

Early morning fisherman getting out on the lake.  Olallie is a stocked lake, so it is likely you will catch a fish!IMG_4427A quick family photo of our first camping trip with little buddy, in front of our tiny little cabin.

And finally, here is my camping pack list!

Camping-Pack-List

I included “tent camping” necessities because I imagine many of our trips in the future will be of that nature.  The parentheses next to the clothing items are so you can put a number for the amount you want to pack (based on the number of days of your trip).

Also, my “picnic kit” includes reusable cups, but on this particular trip, a pack of 9oz. Solo cups proved indispensable as they were used for water, beer, milk and yogurt with granola.  The perfect cup/bowl hybrid, this is definitely something that will remain a staple of my camping supplies in the future.

Another item that came in handy, was the family quilt I packed.  We usually use it for picnics (my great-grandma made it decades ago and most of the scrap fabrics are 100% 1970’s polyester, so it is incredibly stain-proof) but it came in handy camping for wrapping myself up on cold nights, adding an extra layer to our bed at night and as a buffer for the kids on the “splintery” bench at our picnic table.

I feel like everything else on the list is pretty self-explanatory, but if there is anything that I missed, feel free to leave me a question in the comments!

While Olallie Lake isn’t technically on Mt. Hood, I am counting this as completion of #32 on my 101 in 1001 list.  Although, I hope there is a lot more camping in this area before my 1001 days are up.

***This is not a sponsored post and all of the recommendations in this post including Olallie Lake Resort and The Country Cat are solely of my own personal opinion. 

Contact Paper Bathroom Window “Etching”

A few weeks ago, I shared this bathroom window update of our new DIY window cornice.  It was a HUGE improvement of the former window, but seeing it all dressed up made me eager to finish the job.

I had long been obsessing over this DIY project from 7th House on the Left and was finally ready to get to work.  While I had originally planned to do a tiling pattern, just like the one in the link, after choosing a printed fabric for the cornice, it seemed like it would be a little too “printy.”

I ended up deciding to mimic the print of the fabric in a larger scale, just outlining a cut out in the same shape as the print in the fabric.

Here is how it turned out:

DIY-contact-paper-frosted-window

I am super happy with the results.  It provides privacy to the bathroom while maintaining a clean aesthetic and allowing light to pour into the room.

I was also pleased that I didn’t have to cut up a bunch of small pieces!  The process was SO quick, I didn’t even remember to take photos until I was practically done!

The tutorial over at 7th House is pretty easy to follow, but here are a few things I learned from doing this DIY project:

  • Larger pieces = more air bubbles to avoid.  Peel back the contact paper on a small section and adhere it to the window. Then, peel back the contact paper backing slowly AS you are pressing down the contact paper.
  • Make sure your window is SUPER clean and your work space is super clean.  Any smudges will show through the contact paper and little dust particles floating around will be your worst enemy.
  • For the first window, I removed the window and with such large pieces, it seemed like more trouble than it was worth.  For the second window, I installed the contact paper onto the vertical window and it seemed to work just fine (plus, I seemed to avoid as many dust particles).

Here is how to made this particular design pattern:

DIY-contact-paper-frosted-window-how-to

  1. Cut the contact paper to the dimensions of your window
  2. Draw a rectangle with a 1″ border on the backing side of the contact paper
  3. Draw a second rectangle with a 1/2″ border to the first rectangle
  4. Measure 1″ up from the outside rectangle in each corner and place a small circle object (I used circle cookie/biscuit cutters) and trace over it.  Place a slightly larger (mine are about 1/2″ apart) circle object over that (centered) and trace another circle.
  5. Fill in the space in between the two rectangles and circles that you will cut out, so you won’t make a mistake when you are doing the cutting!

I used an X-acto knife to cut mine (on a mat cutting board, but you can cut it on some cardboard) and it was pretty quick and painless.  Applying the contact paper to the window took much more time than cutting the contact paper.

The best part is, this is completely temporary, so if you decide later you want a different pattern or even if you make a mistake during the application process, you can easily peel it back and start over.  And with contact paper costing under $10 a roll, this is the cheapest DIY project EVER!

So glad to have #15 checked off my list!  6 down : 95 to go…

Emergency Mac N’ Cheese

You know when you have those days, where you feel like you are organized and prepared and you’ve finally “figured it out”?  Yesterday, I was having one of those days.  My son woke up from a great nap and we went to story time at the library.  I was about to swing by Whole Foods to pick up some things for dinner and I was feeling like “Mom of the Year” when I look up and see a man at the door who said, “The power’s out. Store’s closed.”

Or something like that.  I was too dumb-founded to remember.  What do you mean “closed”?  Where am I going to get dinner?  I walked a few blocks to the nearby Trader Joe’s and it was the same story.  Oh no!  What am I going to make for dinner???

I started walking home, worried that the power would be out at home too.  We only have electric in our home (no gas) so if the power is out, we are screwed.  Thankfully, the power was ON, so then I began scrounging through the cabinets, to see if there was anything that could equate to “dinner.”

emergency-mac-n-cheese

What I came up with was mac n’ cheese, using the recipe I always use, but making some tweaks here and there based on what we had on hand.

It ended up being delicious and our little buddy even had seconds!

Here is how to make it:

First of all, there are three parts to this recipe: the pasta, the sauce and the toppings.  For the pasta, boil 8 oz. of pasta according to package directions, but make it al dente (a little stiff) since you are going to make it again after.

While the pasta is cooking, make your sauce:

emergency_mac_n_cheese_ingredients

 

The sauce is basically a bechamel sauce that you melt cheese into.  You’ll need the following:

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/4 cup flour

3 cups milk

10 oz. shredded cheese (I just used what I had on hand: cheddar, monterey jack and a little bit of parmesan)

1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

melt-butter-mac-n-cheese

 

Melt the butter in a pan.

saute-onions-mac-n-cheese

 

Saute onions until translucent, not brown.

bechamel-mac-n-cheese

Stir in flour, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon.  Cook until mixture is just golden (again, not brown).

whisk_in_milk

 

Whisk in milk and try to get out any lumps of flour.

stir_thicken_milk_mac_n_cheeseCook until the mixture thickens to a cream-like thickness.

melt_cheese_macStir in cheese until it has completely melted.

spice_mac_n_cheese

 

Remove from heat and stir in paprika, salt and pepper.

pasta_mac_n_cheese

 

Mix with the cooked pasta and set aside.

Next we will prepare the toppings:

mac_n_cheese_topping_ingredientsYou will need:

1 cup panko (I use panko instead of breadcrumbs, because they are better than any store bought breadcrumb and I didn’t have time to make fresh breadcrumbs)

2 oz. shredded cheese (I used 1 oz. cheddar and 1 oz. parm, but again, use what you have)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (this is a secret I picked up from my favorite restaurant mac n’ cheese in LA.  It was a few blocks from my apartment downtown and I ate it several times until I realized what their secret was.  I like to put it in the topping instead of the sauce, because I feel like it gets a toasty flavor)

mac_n_cheese_toppingsToss all the toppings together in a medium/large bowl.  I mix the dry ingredients first and add the olive oil last.

bake_mac_n_cheese

 

Put the pasta/sauce mixture in a greased baking dish and add the toppings on top.  Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes.  Allow to cool for a little bit before eating (this will allow the sauce to thicken).

This will definitely be a part of our family cookbook, which I can’t wait to cross off my list!

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School.

Have a great weekend everyone! And I hope you have a thoughtful Father’s Day!

Father’s Day DIY Beer Tasting Crate

With Father’s Day just around the corner, my little buddy and I have been busy getting together gifts for the THREE fathers in our lives.  When just two years ago, I only had to worry about my own father’s gift, now I am responsible for my husband’s gift, my dad’s gift and my father-in-law’s gift (with the help of my husband, of course)!  Seeing as they are all very different men, no “father’s day gift list” can really cover this bunch, so I’ve been thinking really hard lately about what to get them.

Yesterday I got my father-in-law’s gift in the mail and I ordered my husband’s gift on Amazon weeks ago.  The really difficult one was my own dad (go figure).  When I was a kid, my dad was always the type of guy to say, “don’t get me anything, your company is the best gift” which was sweet, but also frustrating, because I was going to get him SOMETHING and I always had no idea where to start.

Now that my parents live in town, I knew the best gift WOULD be to spend Father’s Day with him.  (I don’t know how long it’s been since we’ve spent Father’s Day together… probably since high school).  So my husband and I are planning to take him to a local brewery for a lunch.  Both my dad and husband LOVE small batch beers and there is no place like Portland to celebrate that.

With our Father’s Day plans in place, I decided to tie in my dad’s gift with our outing.  Originally, I planned on buying him some local beers and etching a beer mug to go with them, but when I found these adorable little tasting beer glasses at Target for $1 each (yeah, that’s right… this was $1 spot find!) I knew I would switch gears and make it a beer tasting kit!

DIY-beer-tasting-crate

For this kit, I purchased a wood crate, four beers from small local breweries and four beer tasting glasses.

This gift was a two part craft.  The first part being painting the crate and the second was etching the glasses.

DIY-beer-crate-suppliesTo paint the crate, I used Martha Stewart alphabet stencils, craft paint and a sponge brush.

baby-toddler-craft-time-finger-paintOriginally I thought I might be able to have my little buddy help paint with the stencils, but once I put the paint brush in his hand it was too scary, so I brought out his finger paints and we both worked on our (separate) crafts.

DIY-beer-crate-stencil-straightTo keep the letters properly spaced and straight, I first made a straight line across where I wanted the BOTTOM of the stencil to be and then extended it across the whole crate.  Then I simply lined up each stencil to the line and traced each stencil with a pencil, until I was satisfied with the spacing.

DIY-beer-crate-paint-stencilThen I went back and filled in the stencils with paint.  This was trickier than I thought as some of the paint leaked under the stencils.  If I could go back I would have purchased the sticker stencils instead.

For the glasses, I decided to etch them with “1” “2” “3” and “4” so that he could do blind beer taste tests.  Here is how I did it:

beer-tasting-etch-glass-suppliesI used etching cream, masking tape, number stencils, an exacto knife and a paint brush.  I wanted to buy Martha Stewart’s etching cream, but the Michael’s I went to only had a HUGE bottle of it.

DIY-stencil-tapeFor this project I made my own “sticker stencil” using masking tape.  I traced the number with the exacto knife over the masking tape and cute out the center.

DIY-etched-beer-glass-stencilWhen you put the stencil on the glass, you have to make sure there are no spots where the etching cream can leak through.  I smoothed the masking tape to the glass using the unsharp edge of the exact-o knife.  You can also use a credit card.  After this, I put on a thick coat of etching cream and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  The bottom says one minute, but I tried that on a test piece and it barely did anything.

etch-beer-tasting-glassHere is the finished glass!

I can’t wait to give my dad this gift.  I am ready for Father’s Day!