Friday, February 17, 2012

Basement Remodel

When I bought my house my basement looked like a typical basement. And by that I mean dark (there are no windows, therefore no natural lighting) and frankly not fun to hang out in. There was pine paneling on the walls and carpet on the floor. Seriously. Carpet. In a basement. BAD IDEA. Here's the before. Excuse the mess!

See what I mean? Even without the mess, the paneling just wasn't doing anything for the place. Neither was the carpet. Sure, the light refelected off of the paneling a bit, but I wouldn't even call that a redeeming quality. Now, since I don't have the money in my budget to tear down the paneling and put up sheetrock I had to come up with another idea. Money saving solution? Paint the paneling!

First things first, that carpet had to go. I ripped it up one day during the summer when I just couldn't stand to look at it anymore! Next I primered the walls with Kilz. If you've never used it before be warned, it smells to high heaven!! Then I painted the newly primered paneling a pale yellow. The exact shade is called "Banana Cream Pie" (It's either Glidden or Behr).

Moving on to the floors, I rescued some laminate from a house my cousin had purchased. He was putting in new flooring and asked if I'd like the old.  I had the good fortune to find the exact same product at a discount flooring store. Then I enlisted the help of a good friend with the installation of the laminate flooring. It took us a day to do the large room. We still need to put up the baseboards but it is completed enough that I thought a reveal was in order.

Doesn't even look like the same room does it? I even had someone ask if I had put in new lights. There really is that much of a difference. I'm super pleased with the results.

I've also been working on the basement stairs, which were also covered with carpet, and will reveal their makeover soon. Plus, there are a few projects sitting in that before picture that I'll also be working on in the next few weeks.

Here's a video of my cat Penny chasing after a ball of painters tape. Apparently, the new floor is slick :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fern Artwork

I've lived in my house for over a year and a half now and I still don't have hardly any artwork on the walls. Which, by the way, my Mom loves to point out to me. It's not that I don't like art, or that I'm afraid to put holes in the wall (ok, I admit right after I painted I was reluctant to put holes in the wall). It's just that I have a hard time finding anything that I like. I'm picky! I've seen so many great art projects lately that I decided to attempt making my own as well.

First I took these two matching pictures given to me by my Mom. Here they are before.

Now, there is nothing wrong with these. In fact, the fruit one is quite pretty. They just don't go with the flow of my house. Flow is important. First thing I did was to take the backs off and use an xacto knife to detach the prints from the gold mats. Who glues the mats to the prints anyway? Then I proceeded to spray paint both the frames and the mats white. Next I googled fern images and found one that I liked that would also be easy to trace. I used the copier to increase the size to the max it would go--400% i believe. Next I took some posterboard that I had cut to size and traced the fern images onto the poster board. After the fern images were on the board, I took some of my left over living room paint and used a fine tipped paint brush to color in the image that I had traced. Whoila!

Here they are hanging in their brand new home. (Forgive the glare off of the glass, I couldn't get a shot without it.) Nice and simple. I LOVE IT!! There are a number of reasons to make your own art. First, you don't have to worry about walking into someone else's house and seeing the very same thing you have hanging in your house. Surely I can't be the only one who worries about that. Second, you can personalize to your own tastes and decorating scheme. Third, it's less expensive than most mass produced art. Finally, you can look at it hanging on the wall and feel a sense of accomplishment over the fact that YOU made it. Also, when anyone asks where you got it, you can tell them that YOU made it!

Oh, and the very best thing of all? This project only cost me $1 (for the poster board)! ONE DOLLAR! Can you believe it?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Homemade Fresh Tomato Soup

My absolute favorite thing about the summer is the fresh homegrown tomatoes. I can't get enough of them. Last year I had 19 tomato plants in my garden. This year I hope to have at least that many, if not more. I love them fresh off the vine, in between two slices of bread, made into salsa, eaten with a dash of salt and a little balsamic vinaigrette, added to numerous dishes--I even like them grilled. At our family get togethers there are two plates of tomatoes. One for me and one for everyone else. No joke.

Therefore, I always get a little sad this time of year since I haven't had a homegrown tomato since late October (I refuse to buy store bought tomatoes) and know I won't have one again until Julyish. However, two summers ago I found a fresh tomato soup recipe that lets me extend that homegrown tomato taste well into winter. I make it in large batches and freeze it in various size tubs. Whenever I want that fresh tomato taste, I just thaw out some of the soup! Campbell's hasn't got anything on this recipe.

You'll Need:
2 tbsp butter/margarine
1 onion, chopped
2 lbs tomatoes, quartered (I use seeds and all)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (1 tbsp dried)
1/2 tsp fresh thyme (1/4 tsp dried)
1/3 cup whipping cream (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste

  • Melt Butter in a large stock pot.
  • Add onion and cook until softened, around 5 minutes
  • Stir in tomatoes, carrots, chicken stock, parsley and thyme
  • Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes
  • Puree soup
  • Add cream (if using) and reheat
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Honestly, I've never added the cream so I can't tell you if it's good with that ingredient or not. I like to let the taste of the tomatoes shine and cream would just gunk that up. I let the soup cool down a bit and then use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the pot. Once it's completely cool I add it to the containers and place it in the freezer for later use. Thaw and add a grilled cheese sandwich and you've got a tasty dinner on those cool winter evenings.