Friday, January 29, 2016

Furniture Fridays: Don't be Afraid of Upholstery Nails

Decorative upholstery tacks can be scary to try out for the first time.  There are even cheat upholster tack strips that are offered to help get that straight line on your finished piece of furniture. 

These look good for a while and are pretty easy to install, but let's look at the real, hardy kind of nailhead tacks.  They can take your chair from mweh, to amazing!  

And it's not as hard as you think, I promise!  Those little puppies are so flexible and able to move around enough to make your finished product pop.

 First of all, to finish this type of chair, remove all the previous tacks, staples, and fabric.
 Cover the area of fluff with paper and painters tape (you'll want to use that kind of tape because it won't stick as much to the fluff as other types of tape).
 Paint with primer.  I also put two coats of paint on, but saved the last coat for after placing the upholstery tacks.
 Start by cutting your fabric to the same size as the seat deck.
Then, at the front of the chair, fold over your fabric (as if you were hemming it) and staple it as close to center as possible.
Next, fold the fabric over on the back-side of the chair and staple it as close to center as possible (directly opposite to the front staple).
Then put two more staples on either side of both the front and back center staples.
After placing the first six staples, do the same thing on both sides of the chair.
Then you can finish by placing the staples center to corner on all sides, pulling taught as you go.

Here are some tips and pointers:

  1. Place your first tack at the front and center of the chair/couch.  This is because subconscieclly, your eye will notice whether or not the most prominent place is symmetrical or not.  
  2. Tap the next tack into place by lining up the center of the tack point with the center of the middle tack.
  3. If you find that you are off track and your line is more like a wave, don't panic!  The hammer can tap the tacks back in line quite easily.
  4. If you find, as I did during this chair upholster, that your very last tack just won't fit into place, try finding a spot close to the last one and see if you can find some dead space (usually there is enough to tap them over a bit to make room for the last one).
  5. Tap all around the tack to place it in line with the tacks previously placed. 
Since that was clear as mud, I made a video:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Baking Through the Alphabet: The Letter P

The Letter P:

The Letter P:

Of course, with a teenager, and a pre-teen, you probably know what we'll be having for supper with the letter "P".

Pizza of course! Luckily, there are so many healthy foods, to go with Pizza, that also start with "P".
  • Pizza
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Peas
  • Pickles
  • Pomegranate

For our baking, we chose something easier than usual, but I had never made one from scratch, so it was a good fit: Peach Cobbler.  Every other time I've made it, I've just added cans of peaches to cake mix and drenched it with 7up - which is a fantastic recipe for camping!  But "baking-through", so we made followed a great recipe with actual flour, sugar, and various scrumptious spices. 

Our movie musical was Peter Pan, the live musical version (though we've seen and love the Disney cartoon version a lot!).  My kids were surprised to see Peter played by a woman, but they really enjoyed the movie.  


Some of these I've never seen: The Phantom Tollbooth, Paint Your Wagon, and Porgy and Bess.  I included The Phantom Tollbooth because my 14 year old loves the book and we'd like to see it in the near future.  Paint Your Wagon and Porgy and Bess are classic musicals that could be good to watch.  
I forgot a picture of Perfect Harmony, but the Disney musical film of this is really quite good.  Set during the Civil Rights era in South Carolina.  Wholesome entertainment, that one!

Of course The Phantom of the Opera has amazing music!  I kept it on here, but have only seen the film version from 2004.  And I would hold off showing it to my kiddos until at least 13.  

Popeye.  I first was introduced to this film when I was a child. The music is quite addicting and the film slightly goofy, but it was a favorite in our family.  

The Poor Little, Rich Girl.  Like many films from that era, it is hard to get into, but I love the film for it's music and dancing.  

Pete's Dragon, another one with catchy music, but it's hard to watch the rendition of the green dragon with purple/pink accents.  

Pinocchio has never been a favorite of mine, and my kids didn't like watching it much because they know that Pinocchio is about to do wrong and they have a hard time knowing he is going to get into trouble.  "Why is he at that place, that Pleasure Island?" - as they hide behind the couch.  Luckily it does end well, with him turning into a real boy by doing a good deed.  

Pocahontas, though historically inaccurate, has some decent music, but it's not the best musical of all time.  
  • Peter Pan
  • Peter Pan (cartoon)
  • Pocahontas
  • Pinocchio
  • Pete's Dragon
  • Poor Little, Rich Girl
  • Popeye
  • The Phantom Tollbooth
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • Perfect Harmony
  • Paint Your Wagon
  • Porgy and Bess

Friday, January 22, 2016

Furniture Fridays: Mirror to Chalkboard

The idea for this whole project started when we moved into our new house this past summer.  We have a beautiful dresser that was given to us by my mother-and-father-in-law shortly after we got married.  It was pretty chippy and beat up from age and all the love and attention it received over the years!

My husband stripped it down and stained it our favorite darkest-stain-possible-that's-not-black.  (It was years ago, and I can't remember the exact name, maybe dark walnut?)

Over the years, my husband has taken to Feng Sui.  To me, it's basically commons sense principles that lots of people have forgotten or just don't actually know about.  Like "Water flowing out of the house takes beneficial ch'i with it.  For this reason, it's best to keep the bathroom door closed at all times."  KISS Guide to Feng Sui pg. 165 I've love keeping the bathroom doors closed, this was just a book saying that it's beneficial and so my husband wanted to implement it.  LOVE IT!  It is also good Feng Sui to put the toilet seat down. Yay!  Luckily, my husband has 6 sisters and was pretty good at that from the get-go, but it's good to know and seemed like common sense to me!  Anyway, I usually love Feng Sui because of that!  Thank you Feng Sui!

I'm not really meaning to make fun of it, on the contrary, I actually am really loving Feng Sui because of all the peace and harmony...and common sense that it brings to our home!

However, here is one that I was not too appreciative of: "It is very important that there is no mirror directly visible from the bed so that,...he or she will not catch sight of a moving reflection."
KISS Guide to Feng Shui pg. 160

This dresser has a beautiful mirror attached to it, which I enjoyed using daily (because our bathroom, and it's mirror, in our last house, were tiny).  In our last house, we were able to place the dresser in such a way that it was not visible from our bed.  But the dresser here is almost directly across from the foot of our bed.

When our master bedroom was set up, the mirror was never attached, and was hidden safely in our closet behind a bunch of hanging clothes.  Well, I didn't really want a mirror sitting in the closet for years on end...which brought me to the idea of turning it into a chalkboard.  It would be easy to paint, and easy to take off if we ever wanted the mirror again!  I figured it would be a win/win situation.

My husband hasn't seen it yet, but, mweh, hopefully he'll like it as much as I do!

I found the cute design idea for the birds on the wire and "you & me" on Pinterest from an Etsy shop. Check out her super cute modern art on reclaimed wood right here.  She even has some with the Eiffel tower and 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Baking Through the Alphabet: The Letter O

The Letter O:

Letter O Meal:

  • Orange Chicken
  • Oranges
  • Olives

 My daughter wanted to make her own recipe up for the letter O.  I was a little nervous to let her go with this one, but she did her homework by finding a chocolate mocha cupcake recipe.  We don't particularly like mocha flavored stuff at our house anyway, so changing it to Oreo seemed like the perfect idea!    She exchanged crushed oreos for the coffee granuals 1 to 1.  Here is the site that she used to make her recipe: - mocha cupcakes.  You'll notice that the recipe isn't anywhere close to exactly the same, in fact she forgot the egg! 

 I did have to improvise a bit and add water and some milk; enough to make this look like cake batter, but it worked! So, her recipe was ok.  It may not be something you'd like to take to a competition or anything, but all 7 kiddos loved it!

This was also the day before school started after winter break, so her cousins were here to help with the baking.

Love my nieces face as she chops the Oreos.
 See all the dirty dishes in the sink.  Keeping it real, people!  
 The girls chopped up 1 cup of Oreos.

 They mixed all of the dry ingredients together.
 Then continued stirring the wet ingredients.  This recipe used vinegar.  I had never heard of that before and assumed it had something to do with the coffee beans, but it turns out that the baking soda and vinegar combination create carbon dioxide gas which will give the cupcakes a little boost (see this blog on The Purpose of Acids in Baking).
 Pouring the batter into the cups.  (A beautifully messy job!)
 Ready to go into the oven. As a side note, you'll notice that the recipe doesn't have eggs in it.  I did have to improvise a bit and add water enough to make this look like cake batter, but it worked! So, her recipe was ok.  It may not be something you'd like to take to a competition or anything, but all 7 kiddos loved it!
 While the cupcakes were baking, we made the frosting.
 The girls used butter and vegetable shortening for this frosting recipe.
 Haha! She had never used my handy-dandy shortening measuring tool before.
 Obviously this needs the milk to make it "frosting" but after the girls left to play a game, I thought the recipe needed some cocoa, and added it to make this a chocolate Oreo frosting.

Oreo Cupcakes Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 C. Flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup crushed Oreos
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
Mix all together and pour into prepared cupcake tins.

Frosting Recipe: (we got the recipe from here)
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 C shortening
  • 4 Cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 Tbsp Oreo cookies, crushed
  • Enough Oreo cookies to place in cupcakes as a garnish

 Letter O Musicals: (* = ones that are , in my opinion, decent or fun to watch; ** = kid friendly; *** = the one we watched for our alphabet musical)

  • Oklahoma***
  • The One and Only Genuine, Original Family Band**
  • Oliver & Company**
  • Oliver*
  • On the Town*
I'll admit, Oklahoma is not my most favorite musical, but it has a few good songs - like the opening number: "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!" and "Oklahoma!".  I always felt bad for poor Judd, even though he is kind of a creeper.  Anyway, it didn't seem to be a favorite for my kids or husband either, BUT, I am from Oklahoma, so they had to watch it!!  Mwahaha!

Now, The One and Only Genuine, Original Family Band is another great Disney classic!  My kids (and husband) enjoyed this one a lot!  They loved the Grandpa and the music and the fact that there was a wheel barrow bet at the end.  It's one that I would definitely recommend!

I haven't seen Oliver & Company since it came out in 1988! But I put it on here as something that could be watched with young children but there is the scene with two of the characters being electrocuted (which is always creepy, even in a cartoon).  So beware of that.

Oliver is actually one of my favorite musicals!  I did have my kids watch this, but I fast forwarded the part when Sykes kills Nancy - it's too horrible and sad.

On the Town.  Remember that I kind of like Gene Kelly, but his goofy grin and over-the-top acting is kind of weird?  BUT, this musical has "New York, New York" in it!  Such a great song!  Another good one is, surprise, surprise, "On the Town".  So it's one worth looking into.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Furniture Friday: A Built-in Kitchen Stool, or Two

I'm a fairly short person, barely making 5' .25" at my last doctor's visit.  So, as we were discussing kitchen counter heigths with our architect (my father-in-law), the builder, and his cabinet maker, I wanted to make sure that when baking and cooking, I wouldn't have to constantly move my recipe to the table (which is the perfect height for mixing and kneading).

In my childhood home, there was a "baking counter" that was about four inches shorter than the regular counters in the kitchen.  It was fantastic!  We considered this option first in our new kitchen layout.  Luckily, our builder pointed out that because our kitchen is a symmetrical open concept, visually it would look strange to have one part of the countertop shorter than the rest.

Perusing Pinterest, I saw the idea of having a rolling cabinet under the countertops.  I thought that I would just do that and be able to work on that shorter counter. But the cabinet carpenter pointed out that it would be difficult to make that stable and completely immovable and it could easily tip.

Finally, our builder suggested placing a hinged "table" on one side of the kitchen island where I could mix and knead to my hearts content.  I didn't LOVE the idea, but sure, it could work well.  The cabinet guy thought he could make it stable enough and we left it at that.

But, you know, I didn't love it!  During that night, however, I thought of an idea I'd seen in my brother-in-law's home.  He had taken the kick plates off of his cabinets and installed drawers for things like cookie sheets and large spatulas, etc and it made me wonder if instead of drawers, a stool could be built.

Both the builder and the cabinet guy thought it could easily be done.

I love how they turned out! We've been in our home for six months and my kids, their cousins, and I have used these stools again and again!  I almost use them every day.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Baking Through the Alphabet - the Letter N

The Letter N
Letter N Meal:
  • Nachos
  • Nectarines
  • Nuts

At my high school graduation, years and years ago, our family friend, Carol, gave me a recipe for Nanaimo Bars.  While at college, I thought about making them, multiple times, but they seemed too time consuming and I never did it.  Many times, over the years, I have gotten that recipe out to think about making it - and never did.  So, when my daughter wanted to start this "baking through the alphabet", I knew exactly what we were going to make for the letter "N"!  Of course, with our recent move, I couldn't find Carol's recipe, but she was kind enough to send it to me last night. (Thanks, Carol!!)

We made a few changes though - my daughter didn't particularly want coconut in the base crust so we left that out.  We used almonds instead of pecans because I'm allergic to the pecans.  And we didn't have any cream cheese (it was Sunday, and it was night-time, and I didn't want to go out in the cold - lazy!).  Instead, we improvised with some 1/2 &1/2 and some regular whipped topping.  

The result was DELICIOUS!!  Besides the Lintzer cookies, this was, by far, my most favorite baked good.  To be honest though, this isn't technically baked, but we did measure typical baking ingredients...and cooked on the w're going to count it anyway for our letter "N".  

Here's the recipe and what to do to make it:  
Grease a 9x9 pan and set it aside (Carol says that she usually doubles the recipe and uses a 9x13). 

Crumb Mixture:
  • 1/2 C unstalted butter
  • 1/4 C Sugar
  • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 C flaked coconut
  • 1/2 C chopped pecans 
In a heavy saucepan combine the first six ingredients over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture coats a spoon.  

Stir in crumbs, coconut, and pecans.  Press evenly into prepared pan.  

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 pkg (3oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 T. instant vanilla pudding mix (1/4 of a 3 oz pkg)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
Cream butter, cream cheese and pudding mix.  Beat in sugar and milk.  Spread over crumb mixture. 

Refriderate until mixture is firm.  

(Since we didn't have cream cheese, we used the recipe from Classy Cooking to help us come up with an alternative filling.  We mixed 1/8 cup of 1/2&1/2 with 1/8 cup of whipped topping (like Cool Whip).  It might not have looked amazing, but it tasted sensational! 

  • 4 sq (1 oz each) semisweet chocolate (we used 4 oz of mini chocolate chips)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
In a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water, melt the chocolate and butter.  
Spread evenly over pudding layer. Refriderate again until chocolate is firm or until serving time.  Cut into squares.  (Since we had the mini chocolate chips, we put them all over the top, just for kicks.) 

Letter N Musicals:  (*= ones that are, in my opinion, decent or just fun to watch; **=kid friendly; ***=the one we chose to watch)

There weren't too many musicals that started with "N", at least not ones that I thought my kids could/would watch.  But here are a few that are good, decent, and fun:

  • Newsies***
  • the Nightmare Before Christmas**
  • No, No, Nanette*  (I haven't seen this one, but it looks interesting.)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Happy Monday! - Winter Mantle and 2016

Happy Monday!

Last year I attempted to post three times a week, but with other work, building a house, and keeping up with family activities, it was just too much.  So, for 2016, I am trying to be more realistic and just post twice a week.  

Starting tomorrow, look for Reclaim Renew Remodel posts every Tuesday and Friday!  Tuesdays we'll be continuing Baking Through the Alphabet and on Fridays look for the traditional Furniture Fridays and "making do or doing without" ideas.