Friday, July 30, 2010

My Go-To Summer Salad

Just wanted to share with you one of our favorite meals this summer.  Here in Kamloops the summer norm is between 35-40C ....I believe 40C is the equivalent of 100F.  We don't have an air conditioner (sadface) so I've been doing my darndest to not touch my stove....bbq's and dinner salads...done and done.

On our road trip to Saskatchewan earlier this month we went out for dinner to Chili's with some extended family.  I split this Southwestern (that's not the word in the was something like that though) Salad with my Aunt and it was AAAAAMAZING! So I picked through it and made a mental note of the ingredients and this is my final outcome:

***PS: I make this straight on to our's way faster and less dishes to do! I'll try and guestimate quantities for one serving...but just add or subtract to your taste!

A handful of nacho chips, broken
1/4 cup    black beans
1/4 cup    frozen corn, thawed (or you could use canned)
1/4 cup    fresh salsa
***for the salsa, in a hand processer, I mix two tomatoes, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/4 of a red onion, half a jalapeno. I keep this stuff on hand 'cause it is SOOO TASTY with chips.  You could also just chop everything up and throw it on top.
1/4 of an avocado, diced

3 Tbsp  mayonnaise
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp  cumin
 Mix together and stream in  ohhhh maybe a quarter cup olive oil...maybe start with a couple Tbsp and work from there.  This should make enough for two or three salads.

Sometimes I get hubby to grill up some chicken to throw on top, if we have it on hand.....but you really don't need it 'cause you got beans!

This photo is before dressing and sans chicken but mmmmmmmmmmm mmmmm don't she look tasty!  The sweetness of the corn is the perfect compliment for the savory cilantro and the cumin in the dressing. You knooooooow you wanna try it!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fancy'in up some Cork Board

Oooooeeee! Look at me go.

Remember how I said drawing makes me skeeeeeeeerd.....well it still does....but I'd like to announce that I have been drawing allllllll day. AND IT LOOKS GOOD people.

I've been working on the cork board project that I told ya'll about. FOR REAL. Haha, I still had doubts I would actually follow through on it even after I posted it.  But I did! Go me!  Anyway, I decided to use this pretty you put a pillar candle my inspiration, and I took hints from Maryann @ Domestically Speaking and the damask cork board she made.

(Pillar candle thingy)

First, I laid on my belly in front of the TV and copied the cute vine and bird design from my ....thing....on to paper. Use tissue paper or something that a permanent marker will bleed through easily.  This will save you a few hours!

My second step involved tracing my pattern from printer paper on to tissue paper :( Sadface.

Use push pins to secure your pattern on to your cork board.  I bought a set of four squares of cork from Wal-mart for $10 bucks! Probably could've taken apart an old one buuuuut I wasn't feelin all the work that would've been involved with that. 

Using a fine-tipped permanent marker, I traced over my pattern slowly so that the ink bled through to the cork. Then I went removed the pattern and went over the cork board to fill in all the areas that didn't bleed through enough....which was most of it.  I even went over it a second time just to make it a little blacker...more black...I mean.

And VOILA! It's soooooo pretty!

This picture really doesn't do it justice...soooo I'll post a close up!


I can't believe it actually turned out. Seriously.  It rarely happens like this.  Usually I get half way through a project, realize that it's just realllllly not turning out how I imagined and it gets banished to the closet of project doom....which is in my basement.

One panel down, three to go! But I think that's enough drawing for today. I gotta do something productive to trick hubby into thinking I've been working like a good little housewife *wink wink*

My only question now IS......should I color it all in black? or leave it just outlined? Eeeeek what to do what to do?????

No matches? Use a condom!

For serious, people. When you're out in the boondocks and you find that you were so overwhelmed by hormones that you remembered to pack condoms but NOT a're not SOL after all. Apparently you just fill it with water, resist the urge to break it over your partners head, then sqeeze the middle of it until you have a circular bulge ..tee hee...on one end that focuses light like a magnifying glass.  I found this life saving information at The Art of Manliness and I also found PICTURES to prove it works!

So there you are folks, another wonderful reason to carry condoms wherever you go.  'Cause you just never know when you need one!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Backyard Update!!!

Ok, it's not really an update seeing as I haven't posted about our yard before but I really wanted to show everyone the beginnings of my beautiful backyard!

This is a picture of our back yard taken the day we took possession.  This was also taken before sunflowers invaded and turned our yard into a jungle. Ok, notice the's hard not to I know.  This baby was a little more than 10 feet around and the ground sloped up to meet it.  It took us THREE tries to get it out...'cause seriously, I need a backyard.  I cannot be sharing with a piece of rotting wood. It's just not an option.  I considered building a gazebo over it, but it stood so tall I would have had to build three steps just to get up to it!

Try #1: Backhoe = FAIL
 Quote: You don't owe me anything. All I did was dig up your yard and then fill it in again.

(Bye bye ugly fence!)

Try #2: I don't have pictures for this guy.  He came and did a few hours work the left to sharpen his blade and told us he'd be back at 9am the next morning.  We didn't end up getting ahold of the guy 'til 2pm the next day when he told us that there was no way he could finish the job for what he quoted and that we needed to renegotiate.  Had he shown up when he said he would, things may have gone differently.  Instead, we asked him very nicely to come pick up the rest of his tools.  He never did.

Try #3: Finally someone who is reliable! He did the whole job AND came back to do touch ups for us even though he too quoted us far less than he should have.

(Stump grinder to the rescue!)

Moral of the Story: For those of you who believe, God works in funny ways.  It took three guys and a whole week but we got half the stump removed for FREE!

On to the other stuff!

The fence was ready to fall over on it's own, so we gave it a nudge (with the backhoe) and replaced it with a row of cedars on the road side and a nice tall cedar fence on the far side.  There's the same crappy fence on the other side of the yard but to replace it requires talking to the other neighbour lady....and she's kinda scary....

(Note the ugly fence and the obscene amount of wood chips that had to be hauled out before we could even start ANYTHING.  Those chips go at least 4 feet deep)

Then we brought in some gravel and made a parking area for our ever-increasing collection of vehicles that don't run. Sadface. I made a compromise with hubby that we can park things in the backyard AS LONG AS THEY'RE UNDER A CANOPY.  That way no one else - including myself- has to look at them!

Next on the project list is to lay some pretty paving stones to make a patio between the carport and the gravel! I love me a pretty little patio with a glass table to drink my morning coffee at!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Save some Cash!

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be a place where I could share all the tips/hints/treasures/ideas get it, right?....that I come up with in my day to day life.  Things that are especially interesting to me are things like finance tips, marriage tips....and fun craft and cooking ideas!

I know some of you just hissed and booed (boo'd? bood?...erm) at the first two, 'cause seriously, who wants to read that kind of stuff......besides me eek!  But I really think that there is a wealth of information out there that could potentially help a lot of people move toward the life they've always wanted. I said "move toward" not "create" because no amount of budgeting and counselling will give you a perfect, stressfree, money-tree in the back yard lifestyle......

Ok, for serious now.

Budgets. I'm sure a few people just ran away screaming ....

They're not so bad. For real

Ok, I take that back.  The first time hubby and I sat down and made a budget....we were so far in the red it was sick.  I cried. That's pretty bad.  But since then we've been working together, making some changes in our spending habits and things are starting to look up!  I'd like to share with you a few easy ideas to start working toward making a budget. More like tips on how to live within your your budget doesn't make you cry.

1. Baby steps, baby steps.  You can't cut EVERY extra expense out of your life and expect it to work for more than...a week.  If you eat out a lot, try cutting it down by one or two meals. Even just one "nice'ish" dinner for two costs about $ could save TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS A MONTH....just by staying at home for one night.

2. Now if you have trouble with the idea of eating at home. Let me share with you a little secret.  It's a site called Saving Dinner. Check it. Seriously.  Leanne has created this lovely thing called the Menu Mailer! Every week you get a menu mailed to you with recipes for each day and a grocery list.  You can get them in Vegetarian, Low Carb, Gluten Free, you name it!  You never have to wonder what's for dinner AGAIN!
She also has a lot of other really cool menu solutions on the site too...I highly recommend.

3.  On the same line, if your cooking for one or two, the Menu Mailers might not be the right solution.  BUT, it is SO easy to make a meal plan for the week.  Even if it consists of KD, hot dogs and freezer dinners, jot a meal down for each day of the week and then transfer the ingredients you need for each onto your grocery list. NEVER SHOP WITHOUT A GROCERY LIST.  I always seem to come home with food I don't need when I don't have my list with me. 

4. Check your phone/internet bills.  Just the other day hubby called our phone company on account of our reeeeediculously high phone/internet bill.  He told them he could get the same service with another company for half the price of what we were paying (yes he did his it seriously took like two minutes).  They knocked $30 off our bill! Sawweeeeeet!  A simple phone call saved us $360 over the year.

5.  Gas is painfully expensive these drive less.  Instead of making fourteen million trips around town in a week, take a moment to check your schedule and try to bundle things together.  This works for the grocery store too. If you make a list and a menu you won't find yourself going to the grocery store every other day.  Saves on gas, saves the environment and saves your sanity! Win win situation!

These are just a few things to get started and I'm going to get down and dirty with doing a real budget in a later post. Give these ideas a try!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Home Decor Project?

I need to confess. Crafty is ...well....hardly the proper term to describe me. My imagination has been curtailed by 4 years of Science (or that's what I like to blame anyway). I took a first-year art course and found it more stressful than my fourth-year Population Statistics course! The problem lies in that I dream that I'm crafty. I FEEL that I am crafty. (And by crafty I mean artsy....not sneaky:) Far too often I find myself wandering through a thrift store, HOPING to find SOMETHING that I could turn into something wonderful like so many women do. I peruse blog upon blog and bookmark ideas that I THINK I could recreate to fill the empty walls of my house.

Yes, they are empty. One whole year later. The other problem lies in my inability to make decisions (and spend money). Don't hate me for the latter. It's a curse. Seriously. I spent at least 15 minutes standing in the aisle at Wal-mart today, debating on whether I should spend my last $15 cash on a project OR save it for that elusive something better. The only reason I finally moved was because I started wondering if someone had noticed that I had been standing there I left without my project supplies.

My hope is that by posting this, just maybe I might be inspired to actually do know...just to say that I actually followed through with my plan. (and hopefully maybe it turns out the way it looks in my head). So here it is.

Oh yeah. The third and most important problem is that ...well...the few projects I have attempted...suck. Period. Oh well.

The blog that I drool over the most is Sarah @ Thrifty Decor Chick. She made these fabulous wall panels for CHEAP - inspired by similar Ballard design panels which are NOT CHEAP.

(Ballard Design panels)

(Sarah's awesome rendition)

You can find her tutorial HERE! .

So the brain-child project is to create a fancy bulletin board in this style. The plan is to use four squares of cork-board which I stared at in Wal-mart today ($10). Two squares I will cover in a colorful material, yet to be found. I'm leaning toward a classy pattern in...eggplant? Brick red? Both? The other two I would like to try and DRAW on. EEEEEKKKKK. Just the word DRAW.. kinda makes me skeeeeerd.

My inspiration for that part came from Maryann @ Domestically Speaking who was also inspired by Ballard Design. She turned an old bulletin board into a classy piece of art by drawing a damask design on it! So pretty!

(Classy Ballard Design board)

(Maryann's beautiful outcome)

You can find Maryann's tutorial for this project HERE!

So that's my plan. Two cloth covered blocks and two with a chinese'ish bird and branch motif on them. Done and done! Wish me luck!