Saturday, September 1, 2012

The War Begins

I've decided to finally tackle my landscape after having devoted nearly all my energy to renovating the interior.  The embarrassment and apologies to guests have tipped the scales in favor of action.  I started with an easy project...street numbers!  Here's the before and after:

This is from both sides of my driveway to showcase the best and worst of the transformation.  I'll give some tips on how to make yours look even better.  You will need: spray paint, tape (masking or similar), newspaper, measuring tape, contact paper, pen, and a small paintbrush.

Step 1:  Pick a style!  The top frame reflects the usual method of using stencils (hence the connecting lines that run through the numbers).  These can generally be found in home improvement stores or superstores.  I decided to get crafty and make my own numbers.

Step 1B:  I printed numbers off my computer at size 500 using American Typewriter Condensed Bold font. Choose any font that tickles your fancy and check the sizing against your current numbers.  Trace the numbers backwards on the paper side of the contact paper and cut out.  I used clear paper, but a color or design will show up better for checking placement. Contact paper provides close contact with the concrete and reduces the amount of touch-up needed afterwards.  

Step 2:  As with all painting, you want to make sure the object is clean so paint doesn't flake off.  I used a broom to remove grass and pebbles from the area and then a soft bristled dust brush to get off fine dirt.

Step 3: Tape off the desired area.  Measure the width of the numbers and add an inch for each space between numbers and the edges.  Mine ended up around 18 inches which was a little larger than the original.  Leave an inch above and below the number's height for the border to stand out.  I used masking tape, but blue painters tape or packing tape would probably work as well...duct tape might be a wee bit too sticky.  Tape the newspaper down ALL the way around.  Those white dribbles at the bottom are because I did not.  :P  The newspaper protects the surrounding area, especially if you get spray happy or it's a little windy (don't try this if it's really windy!).  I ended up barefoot because I had to use my shoes to keep the newspaper down in the wind.

Step 4: Spray paint the base layer the color you want the numbers to show.  I used RustOleum's "Heirloom White", which is more of an off-white than standard white, in a satin finish.  I think it makes the numbers stand out and looks more attractive.  Follow the directions on the spray paint regarding how long to let it dry before adding another layer.  You could do a second base layer, but I skipped it.

Were you wondering where step 1A was?  Here it is!  Step 1A:  Start in the morning to mid-afternoon so you don't have to remove all the newspaper when it gets dark and re-do it the next day like I did.

Step 5:  Here's where the contact paper choice comes into play.  With my clear numbers, it was hard to tell if they were straight and the spacing looked right, therefore I ended up with a slightly tilted "2".  Use the tape measure to distance numbers an inch apart and check the top of the numbers are aligned.  Stand back and check it out.  My contact paper was forgiving so if something doesn't look right you should be able to take it off and try again.  Make sure you press it down well when you're happy so you have less to touch up later.

Step 6: Spray paint the top coat.  I used RustOleum's "Canyon Black" in a satin finish.  Let it dry and remove the tape, newspaper, and numbers.  Voila!  If a little top paint got on the numbers use a cheap, small paintbrush to do touch ups.  I still need to do this and plan on spraying into the paint can cap and dabbing the paint up from there.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Moosewood's Tunisian Vegetable Stew

Moosewood Cooks at Home has one of my favorite dishes of all time.  This stew has no meat, but is  filling because of the protein-laden chickpeas.  I'm generally not the biggest fan of veggies, but the tomato base and spices make this a dish I dig into.  As soon as you add the cinnamon you know the ingredients are all pulling together.  I've copied the recipe below from the International Vegetarian Union.  I leave out the raisins, but I don't doubt it's a great addition.  Some additional time simmering might be necessary and you will need a large pot to hold it all in.  I've previously substituted chicken stock for veggie stock when I don't have it on hand since I'm not a vegetarian.

Tunisian Vegetable Stew
from: Asha Dornfest 

1 1/2 c. thinly sliced onions(from Moosewood Cooks at Home)
  • 1/4 c. vegie stock
  • 3 c. thinly sliced cabbage
  • dash of salt
  • 1 large green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander (has a mild, nutty taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (adds golden color)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 28-oz can undrained chopped tomatoes
  • 1 16-oz can cooked chick peas/garbanzo beans
  • 1/3 cup raisins or currants (optional, but very good)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Saute onions in stock for 5 minutes.Add cabbage, sprinkle with salt, saute for another 5 min.
Add bell pepper and spices to skillet, saute another minute.
Stir in tomatoes, chick peas and raisins, simmer covered for 15 minutes till vegies are tender.
Add lemon juice and salt to taste.
Serve on top of rice, couscous or other grain.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I'm turning into a Chicken!

If you are what you eat, I'll be turning into a chicken very soon.  One of the Latin food stores was having a sale on whole chickens so I price matched my little heart out at Wal-Mart.  I'm set for protein for quite some time now.  Hopefully, all the stockpiling will tide me over for a while.  I also picked up a few freebies.  :)

Added to my kitchen:

  • Barilla whole wheat pasta @ $0.45 after store savings and coupon
  • 2 lb Ansera white rice @ $0.99 each on sale
  • Post cereal price matched to Latin store ad @ $0.99 after matching and coupon
  • 4 Hamburger Helpers price matched to Albertson's @ $0.67 after matching and coupon
  • 5.5 lb whole chicken @ $3.73 after price matching
  • 6.6 lb whole chicken @ $4.51 after price matching (I can't find the receipt, but I'm going off memory and that should be pretty close)
  • Land O'Lakes butter @ $2.73 after coupon (I was just running out so I bought it without checking for the best deal)
  • 2 boxes of South Beach bars @ FREE + money maker
  • 2 Ultimate Flurry Protein bars @ FREE
  • 1 Hershey's Bliss @ FREE + money maker after rain check and coupon
Rolling Total to Date: $66.30

I actually thought I was over budget, but I apparently didn't go shopping for a week going by the dates of previous posts.  I should be coming to the end of week 7 and still have a little under $4 to spare.  I think I'll go get some more avocados, oranges, and tortillas...although there's supposed to be a deal on Skinny Cow candy that sounds pretty good.  ; )

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Use Overage to Pay for Food

This weekend I made a few stops to pick up a few staples and kept the prices down by using overage.  Overage is when you have a coupon for more than the price of an item.  Not all stores allow overage and most will not let your balance go below zero so it's good to have a few other items to make up the difference.

I picked up:

  • 1 regular Twix @ FREE after ECB (extra care bucks)
  • 2 Sun-Bird stir-fry seasonings (very excited to try) @ FREE after coupons
  • 1 gallon Walmart brand milk @ $2.14 after taking into account the Overage from the Sun-Bird products
  • 5 Chex Mix 8 oz@ $0.05 each after store and manufacturing coupons and catalina
  • 2 Multi-Grain Cheerios 12.8 oz@ $0.98 each after store savings and coupons
  • 3 Kikkoman soy sauce 5 oz @ FREE after coupons and catalina
  • 4.6 lbs of chicken breasts with ribs @ $0.70 a pound after taking into account the Kikkoman Overage
Rolling Total to Date: $48.26

Half-way through the challenge and I'm under budget and probably eating better than I was before!  This challenge has forced me to think ahead for my meals, make an effort to cook (although I like cooking) and eat those items I have in my stockpile even if it's not my favorite.  I think I should try some new recipes to make it more exciting, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with where I'm at.  I know some people I've told about the challenge think I'm crazy or that it takes too much time to be worth the effort.  Other than reaping the benefits of home cooked food, I think it's important to have a firm grasp on my budget.  While I am blessed to have a good job that pays my bills, in this economy you never know when that may no longer be the case.  I know that if something happens I can survive a while without having to depend on loans from family and friends.  God has blessed me more than I can truly grasp and I can use this skill to help others.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Apple Rocks my Socks off

I got back an iPod nano...and not just any one, but the latest and greatest!  Woohooo!  I was so excited I actually started jumping around at work and telling everyone I came across about all the neat features.  I'm definitely loving the new radio and the Nike plus...which I need to find where I put mine now.  I'm like a kid at Christmas or set free in a candy store.  Thank you, Apple!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Turkey Taco Tuesday

It almost seems like I'm forgetting something I bought since it's been over a week, but the chicken really carried me through.  This time it's turkey!  Remember the turkey breast from Dec. 17th?  Well, I put it in the slow cooker and I have protein for the week.  All it needed was a few spices, a little butter, and a can of broth and it took care of itself.  I was craving some tortillas so it's now taco week...maybe this weekend some breakfast tacos too!

This is what I picked up:

  • 16 count flour tortillas @ $1.98
  • 5 avocados @ $1 for 5 (price matched at Walmart from El Rancho)
  • Idahoan box of O'Brien Hash Browns @ FREE after All You coupon
Rolling total to date: $40.74

That means I'm almost through week four and right on target!!  I'll probably be picking up some of the healthy deals this week like granola and weight loss bars.  Great week!  :)