November 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday November 23

One of the most stressful parts of the day around here seems to come at 5:30 p.m. That's when the dreaded question is asked by either the hubby or me: What's for dinner? And it never fails that one of us will come up with a good idea only to find that we're missing one...or five ingredients. Argh.

So in an effort to alleviate this daily frustation, I've decided to try menu planning. I've done it in the past, but it was always just a list I jotted down on the fridge note pad. I'd rather try to put it in a more permanent place so that I can refer back to previous plans, so I decided this blog is a great place for it! And there couldn't be a more perfect week to start, seeing as how Thanksgiving is Thursday, so that day is already planned!

Thanks to I'm an Organizing Junkie for putting together Menu Plan Monday!

Okay, so here's my first Life on the 'Throw Menu Plan Monday entry:

MONDAY: Mexican night! Tacos and Quesadillas; salad on the side for me

TUESDAY: Chicken a la Vodka Farfalle, Steamed Broccoli, Garlic Toast

WEDNESDAY: Crock Pot Beef Stew, Bread, Green Beans

THURSDAY: Thanksgiving turkey for lunch and dinner!

FRIDAY: Pizza night

SATURDAY: Steak medallions, green beans, mashed potatoes

October 15, 2009

National Poetry Day

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city

on silent haunches
and then moves on.

-Carl Sandburg (1916)

October 12, 2009

Letter Sorter Therapy

What a sad-looking little letter organizer. Dull brown finish. Labeled a meager $1.99. Empty of all manner of junk mail or office supplies. Simply unable to fulfill its organizational destiny. (Can you hear the violin music?)

I was at the thrift store a few months ago and spotted this gem lying at the end of a checkout aisle. It was ugly, but that day happened to be Labor Day, which means everything is half price! So I purchased it and toted it home where it continued to exist in its depressed state until yesterday when I finally made it purty.

First, I spray painted it a nice off-white, neutral shade:

Yep, that's a glossy finish. This thing's going to sit on my kitchen counter, so it needs to be easy to clean.

Not so sad-looking anymore, but not necessarily chipper, wouldn't you agree? I decided it needed a little color, so I dug out some botanical print scrapbook paper and Mod Podged the backs of the slots:

Now that's an improvement! I added a few label holders and this little letter sorter looked like it was practically smiling at me! But it still wasn't fulfilling its organizational destiny, so...

I stuffed it full of all the items lying on the hot mess that is my countertop. Ah, no more sad little letter sorter. And no more messy landing pad. Now I just have to train the husband to use it!

I'm linking up to DIY Day at Kimba's A Soft Place to Land. Go check out oodles of creative projects!

October 5, 2009

Fall Porch Decor

Our side porch was in need of some attention this fall. The railings and posts were coated in mildew and the screen door's paint was peeling. Things were looking drab to say the least. So I touched up the screen door with a white paint marker, one of the easiest DIY projects ever. (If you don't have a white paint pen, go get one! They're so handy!) The posts and railings took more work; I had to scrub them with bleach, one of the grossest DIY projects ever. It was worth it, though. Look how clean and shiny they are! Now on to the fall decorations...I pulled this chippy red chair out of the storage area of my garage and it looked great on the porch. I love the pops of red; it's a color that works for multiple seasons. I plopped an old wooden pumpkin on there and hung an old grapevine wreath on the back. It needed something else, though. And then I saw the cover of this month's issue of Better Homes and Gardens. They used hedge apples as part of an adorable centerpiece. We have hedge apples aplenty around here, so I just went out and grabbed a few, sprayed them with a coat of sealant and arranged them in a basket. Much better! Total cost of this part of my fall decor: $0!

Okay, now I'll admit that I did spend a little money on my porch. I decided to make a wreath for the door, so I invested in a few fake fall flowers and ribbon. I used another old grapevine wreath (really, these things have a lot of uses!) and just stuck the flowers in where they looked nice. Nothing scientific about it, and no wires involved. My favorite part is the ribbon I used to hang the wreath. Ooo la la!
The last project I did was paint my sad-looking old door. The previous owners had painted the whole thing a depressing gray color, trim and all. I painted the trim a bright white and gave the door three coats of a wine-colored burgundy. Much better! It took a lot of time to tape it and paint it, but the payoff is well worth it. I love driving up to my cheery entrance now!

I'm linking up to the Fall Festival at the DIY Show Off. Go check out what other DIY-ers are doing to decorate for the season!
Edited to add: I'm also linking up to Kimba's DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land. Go check out some other great projects!

September 17, 2009

Clearance Shelf to Candle Holder

Never underestimate the potential of an item in the clearance aisle. On a recent trip to Hobby Lobby, I came across this naked little shelf/box thingamajig:

I had no idea what I might use it for, but I decided to get it because the price was too good to pass up:

Once I got it home, the poor thing sat in my office for over a month while I waited for inspiration! Then one day I was flipping through one of my favorite magazines, Country Sampler, and I saw a gorgeous candle holder that looked an awful lot like my thingamajig. So I dragged out the craft paint and a little wooden star that fell off of an old project. After a half hour of paint and glue gunning, this is what I came up with:

Ah, my little bargain bin item has a purpose in life now! And I have a cute candle holder to set on my dry sink. Everyone's a winner!

I'm linking up to Kimba's DIY Day on A Soft Place to Land. It's a wonderful site; go check it out and see what other DIY-ers have created!

August 30, 2009

Two Second-Hand Must Buys

I've done a lot of thrifting and garage sale-ing over the years, and I've found there are a few items that just have staying power. They're flexible and often quite cheap, so if you're out there doing a little secondhand scavenging, don't pass these two up!

1. Picture Frames

Go ahead and try to find a room in your home where you don't have a framed photo or piece of art. We humans like to be surrounded by lovely images, don't we? While it's rare to find a decent piece of art or photography secondhand, it's very easy to find a plethora of decent frames. I hardly ever buy them new because it's so easy to acquire them used. And they're so cheap! That beauty up there cost me $1.99 before the 50% discount at Salvation Army, for a grand total of 99 cents.

And if you don't like the color or finish, a little spray paint goes a long way. The two beauties below have a good color but the finish is a little too shiny for my taste. I plan to add a little satin black Krylon and they'll fit right in with my decor. And the price? 99 cents each. Wow!

If you find a frame you like, be sure to check the back of it before buying. Does it look like it's easy to get the backing off? Are there hangers on the back or an arm for tabletop display? If so, go for it! And if it comes with a decent mat, you get extra credit!

2. Shelves

Shelves are some of the most useful decor items of all. They do important work holding up our most treasured trinkets as well as our everyday necessities. And they come in so many different styles! I have several shelves on the walls of my home, some holding my lunchbox collection and some adding visual interest to decorative groupings. Most of them were purchased secondhand and given new life with a coat of spray paint. The one in the picture above cost me all of 99 cents last week at the thrift store. I plan to give it a couple coats of spray paint and use it in my master bedroom. It looks similar to the molding on the top of our dresser and end tables.

If you find a gently used shelf that you'd like to purchase, just be sure to check that it has some sort of hanging apparatus on the back. I've also used shelves that just have holes drilled in the back for hanging. If it looks good, put it in your cart and start imagining all the goodies you can display on it once you get it home!

I'm linking up this post to Today's Thrifty Treasures at Rhoda's Southern Hospitality. Go check out the must-haves that other thrifty shoppers snatch up!

Stay Gold, Ponyboy

One of my favorite novels of all time is S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. The main character, Ponyboy Curtis, is a boy with an incredibly tough life who still takes time to stop and appreciate a beautiful sunset. He's a kid after my own heart. Ever since we moved to the house on the 'Throw, we've been blessed with countless gorgeous sunsets. The layers of color range from cotton candy pink to baby boy blue. One night last week while watering plants, I stopped in my tracks when I saw this view from the dock of our pond. It was a quiet, still moment, one of those times when you forget about the busy-ness of life. It was true beauty, and I can't wait until the next one.

August 24, 2009

This Week's Bargain

Don't walk--RUN to Walgreen's this week and get yourself some free Chinet plates. Yes, you read me right. FREE! Before you go, though, be sure to clip out two $2/1 coupons from the August 9th Smart Source insert. Once you're at the store, clip out the Buy One, Get One Free coupon. Present the manufacturer's coupons first and the store coupon second and then revel in the joy that is free stuff! (I plan to use mine at Wyatt's first birthday party.)

Thanks to Money Saving Mom for this deal!

Simple and Pretty

My dining room table was looking unloved yesterday:

So I decided to dress it up with some thrift store vases and wild flowers. I found these three lovelies at the local Salvation Army: I liked the fact that they were all different styles and heights. It makes them eclectic instead of ordinary. I also liked the fact that they were 59 cents each with an extra 50% off!

I made my hubby cut the flowers for me because they were just too tall for me to reach. A little water and voila! A much cheerier dining room table:
I had some extra flowers, so I tossed them in a Mason jar that I bought on the same shopping trip. It was all of 89 cents before the 50% off!I just love fresh flowers! Don't you?

I'm linking up to Rhoda's Thrifty Treasures party over at Southern Hospitality. Pop over for a visit and see what treasures other shoppers found!

August 13, 2009

Kaitlyn's Baby Shower

My younger brother and his girlfriend are expecting a baby girl on September 24th, and last weekend my mom and I hosted a baby shower for the mama-to-be. She's decorating the nursery in a pattern called Pop Daisy, which is comprised of a pale pink and chocolate brown color scheme. I decided to make the shower decorations to match. First, we have the pompoms...

Aren't they cute? I got the instructions for making them from Martha Stewart's website, and they were super easy to do. After they were finished, I attached some grosgrain ribbon and hung them at alternating heights for some visual interest. Much better than store-bought balloons!

Another decoration that was inspired by an online source was a set of three pink and brown pennant banners I made using instructions from Stitch.Rip.Repeat...

I substituted scrapbook paper for fabric and they turned out quite nicely. (And I learned that, yes, you can run scrapbook paper through a sewing machine!) We hung the banners on the wall, along the drapes and around the entertainment center, where the television was displaying a 4D ultrasound video of the baby throughout the shower.

For the favors, I decided to make daisy suckers out of candy meltaway chips. I used chocolate and pink vanilla flavored chips, and they turned out great. This was my first time making anything with meltaway chips, and it was a little time-consuming but well worth it in the end. Even my picky brother liked them!

We played a couple of games at the shower, including bingo and the memory game. We also did the "Don't Say Baby" necklace game, which always gets the guests fired up! For game prizes, I purchased fall mums in #5 pots at Meijer for $1.97 each. To make them fit the color scheme, I wrapped each in brown or pink tissue paper and tied them with a decorative ribbon. The guests liked winning something that they could enjoy for years to come.

The shower ended up being a big hit, and Kaitlyn really appreciated the attention to detail that was put into it. She was very excited to see the house sprinkled in chocolate and pink decor, and I was excited to try out some new crafty projects along the way!

July 7, 2009

Before and After: Nursery

Let's take a stroll down memory lane. This time last summer, my husband and I were immersed in a very important project--transforming a blah catch-all into a lively nursery for our sweet baby boy.

The walls were a basic white and the carpet was an even more basic beige. (Yes, that's my dog's rear end in the photo!)

The one pop of color was in the closet of all places, which was painted a dark hunter green. It doesn't exactly scream, "A sweet baby boy sleeps here." Oh, and the closet doors have been missing since we moved in. We've searched high and low to no avail.

Now isn't this a joyful space? We installed beadboard panes, chair rail trim, and new baseboards. The upper part of the wall was painted a soft green. I love this storage shelf. One year later, it's being put to good use holding W's books and clothing (in the colorful bins, of course!).

Here is one of my favorite spots in the whole house! I love to nurse and rock my little one in the cozy chair. It almost feels like it was made to fit me; my husband often says it feels uncomfortable when he sits there! And look at the floor. No, it's not hardwood; it's peel-n-stick vinyl by Konecto. Very functional!

And here is where W snoozes every night. The bedding is Barnyard Stack by Kidsline. Since we live out in the country we decided to give the room a farm theme.

Remember that dark, spooky closet? Here it is, transformed! Since the room is so small, we decided to make it a changing nook. It has worked out wonderfully, except for when W mischievously drops items between the dresser and the wall.

Finally, one of my favorite parts of the room...Before we laid the floor, we wrote W a little love note on the subfloor in the doorway. It's just a little hidden reminder of how special our boy is to us!

June 19, 2009

For Starters

My head is teeming with ideas. I want to spray paint that ugly old desk in the foyer a delicious chocolate brown color. I want to plant shrubs and perennials in a border that surrounds my entire house like a hug. I want to set up an area in our office where I can be crafty and nobody will care. And I want to rediscover that part of me that got lost when I became Mommy--that part of me that is creative and willing to try new things.

Because I need to free up some space in my head, I will commit these ideas (and others!) to the virtual page here at Life on the 'Throw. I hope you enjoy reading about my little endeavors. If you want, leave me a comment from time to time, just so I know I'm not alone!

P.S. The name Life on the 'Throw refers to the road I live on. 'Cause I know you were wondering!