Kitchen Remodeling in 2013

We’re not really the type to make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I do have a goal in mind for 2013. With the possibility of moving always on the horizon, I have tried to tackle home remodeling projects in small pieces- updating paint, furniture, etc. at different times- rather than overhauling an entire room at once. That way I could never be caught off guard in the middle of a project and face the daunting task of selling a work-in-progress.

This year I have decided to make an exception, and we are now in the early stages of planning a kitchen remodeling project. The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in our home. I personally spend a majority of my time there cooking, cleaning, and working at the table. This poses a problem as the space is not too large and the organization leaves much to be desired.

When we first approached the idea of redesign, I wanted to tackle the project ourselves. NC is skilled with design programs and construction and I like to think I have an eye for good design. However, the more we considered the project the more I wonder if it makes sense to work with a design company to create the look and feel we want.

We live a little way outside St. Louis (if you consider 50 miles little) so working with a kitchen design company would involve time and effort for us to visit the suppliers and for the installers to travel all the way to our home. Cabinets, counter tops, and new flooring are all on the agenda, along with back-splash tile and a fresh coat of paint. This project is not something that will come cheap by any means.

Then there is the question of finding the right design company for our vision and budget. There are many companies in St. Louis to choose from, and many have great examples of their work. We’re considering going to a kitchen design seminar to get a feel for the process without the pressure of working with a consultant on our first trip. Personally, I hate to feel pressured to make a decision when it comes to big purchases, and it will be nice to have the buffer of others to allow us to examine the showroom for ourselves.

kitchen design

How awesome would this kitchen be?

After we do a little more research we can decide what kind of counter tops and cabinets we want to use for the space. NC has always had a thing for granite, but hopefully he will be open to more colorful options!

Chicken Foil Steamer

This meal was a delicious little experiment modified from this recipe to suit my own tastes. I subtracted the stuffing, and added a few extra gems. Its a great light dinner that will leave you feeling healthy and satisfied.

Ingredients: (Per steam pack)

  1. 1 C. chopped broccoli

  2. 1/4 C. diced red onion

  3. 6 oz. chicken breast- sliced thin

  4. cheese (I used Pepper Jack)

  5. 2 slices pre-cooked bacon, crumbled

  6. 1 T. Creamy Italian dressing

Materials:

  1. large sheet of foil

  2. cooking spray

  3. cookie sheet

  4. oven (set to 400)

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Let’s Get Started:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 400.

  • Lay a large sheet of foil on the cookie sheet, and coat generously with cooking oil.

  • Place the chicken breast in the center of the foil. You want the chicken to be this so it will cook completely. I actually had to slice mine in half.

  • Combine the broccoli and onions and cover the chicken.

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  • Layer the cheese and bacon on top of the veggies. I didn’t use a lot of cheese, but you can always add what you think is necessary.

  • Drizzle the dressing over the top.

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  • Loosly wrap the foil around the chicken and fold to seal. Make sure you’re leaving room for heat to circulate within. Don’t suffocate your chicken!

  • Slide into the oven for 20-25 minutes. You need to know whether your oven typically cooks quickly or slowly. You can’t check for progress once it’s baking.

  • When you remove the packet, puncture it to allow the steam to escape.

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  • Once you’ve seen the steam escape, feel free to unwrap and admire your creation.

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MMM…

I served my chicken with mashed potatos and gravy. Next time I’m going to try chopping up the chicken dish and adding it to a side salad for an even healthier option.

Happy Cooking!

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A Cry For Help

Ok, all of my wine-loving friends, I need your help! I have a few projects bouncing around in my head and I would love to try them out and have some tutorials for you.

BUT, they require wine bottles and corks. I’m not a wine drinker, so you can see where this might be a problem.

If you would like to donate in any way, shape, or form I would greatly appreciate it!

I also want to make some awesome wine bottle candle holders!

Spring Into The Next Semester

 J-Term is half way over, which means it’s time to start reorganizing for the spring semester. I find that nothing gives me new energy like a clean, organized room.

 

I only live at LU three days a week, so I don’t like to spend a lot of money to spruce up my space. Use what you have and buy only what you must.

 

Organizing:

 

The problem with dorm life is that it limits the ammount of space you have and the furniture on which you can put things. The trick here is to use every bit of space you’re given. Have your bed raised to its maximum height and use the space below for storage. No shelf should go unused in a dorm.

 

Make sure your organization designates a specific space for sleep and study. In LUL classes it’s taught that studing and sleeping in the same spot causes insomnia and restless sleep. It sounds like a bunch of bull, but once I tried sitting at a desk to do homework, I discovered for myself that it’s true.

 

My desk holds all of my craft supplies as well as my “Inspiration Book”. The supplies that don’t fit are contained in a storage box off to the side.

 

Like every other surface, the storage bin has decorative elements.

 

On top I placed a few books and a momento box. While this is nothing special, it improves the view and didn’t cost anything to add.

 

Organised as always, the insides of the drawers are separated by the types of projects the contents are used for. The top is artistic, the middle is crafts, and the bottom is fabric.

  

 

 

Decoration:

For the walls, I mixed personal art, purchased pieces, and photographs.

 

Wall art is tricky. There is an infinate number of ways in which to structure the layout. Personally, I like a mixture of plain wall and images. It makes the color stand out and keeps the room from becoming too busy and overwhelming for the eyes.

 

Also worth noting is the spacing of the art. Make sure that if you sit up in bed you won’t be leaning on a painting or knocking down photos. I sit againts the headboard, so I left the plaque on that wall higher than the others. I also left room for myself to roll against the long wall while sleeping.

 

Closet:

Finally, the most difficult organizational challenge of all!

There is a fairly universally accepted rule that we wear about 20% of the clothing we own 80% of the time. That means the the majority of the stuff hanging there is just taking up space. Lucky for you, there are ways to remedy the situation. Make sure all of your hangers are facing the same direction. Then, every time you wear an item turn the hanger around so the hook is facing the opposite way. Keep this up for at least three weeks, and you’ll be amazed at how many times you default to the same outfits.

 

Once you’ve determined what you actuall wear, get rid of everything else. Donate it if you can, and toss out those items that are just beyond use. The same rule applies for shoes. If you’re not wearing them, they have no business in your tiny dorm room closet.

 

You can then order your newly minimized wardrobe in the order that works best for you. Some people choose by color or season. My closet is organized by type of item. The dresses are together, dress shirts, sweatshirts, etc. all have groups.

Make use of the top shelf if you have one. Mine holds my suitcase and purses.

 

Check it out, you now have a fresh start for spring! Hopefully these tips are helpful. I’d love to hear what steps you are taking to reorganize your own lives, so write in and let me know of any tips or suggestions I should be including.

Keep Calm and Carry On

This week’s project was an exercise in the importance of always having a backup plan.

 

When I started planning this post, I wanted to focus on organizational tips for college students on a budget. Unfortunately, my single room is currently playing host to several extra pieces of furniture so I was unable to make it work.

 

My plan B, also a space-saving craft, met failure at every turn. Not to be discouraged, I’m in the process of salvaging it and you can look forward to a post by the end of the week.

 

Thus, we arrive at plan C- decorative accents. As most who know me can testify, I am a big believer that it is the little things that make you stand out. The same idea applies to decorating. It’s important to add whimsical, personal aspects to your room.

 

Take this desk for example. Nothing special about it. Every resident student at LU has the same one. What they dont have, is your personality.

 

The first step is to evaluate your space. How much physical room do you have? Are there specific items that you must leave space for? In my case, the dresser also serves as my nightstand, so I have to designate space for a lamp and my phone. Easy? For sure.

 

Next consider your color scheme or theme of your room. This is another topic I strongly believe is important for standing out in college. If you have a roommate you may want to coordinate colors to create a sense of harmony. If you’re like me, you can just choose whatever you want. My colors are teal, dark blue, and lime green, so I try to keep that in mind as much as possible.

 

Then evaluate when you will be using or looking at the space. Is it something you will only pay attention to in the mornings? Will you see it anytime you walk in the room? My dresser is the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning. Therefore I wanted to choose items that are both fun and valuable to me.

 

There are five important items to include: 

 

1. The Necessary. This is your alarm clock, cell phone charger, or a lamp. Keep it simple and use only what you must.

 

2. The Personal. This is something close to your heart. I chose a picture of myself with NC, but this could just as easily be a photo of my family or a momento of some kind.

 

 

3. The Motivational. This can be an inspirational quote, song lyrics, or anything else that gives you the energy to get moving. I use my “Keep Calm and Carry On” board to remind myself to stay focused on the positives in my life.

 

4. The Decorative. This is something without a purpose other than appearance. I used these nifty sequins balls I made. It doesn’t have to be big or impressive. I personally like to use handmade items for this element.

 

 

5. The Original. This is something that reflects your personality and passions. It could be a football, painting, or anything else that you have laying around in your room. These glitter pumps are occasionally used, but most often sit atop my dresser as a girly touch.

 

 

If you take away anything from this post, I hope it is the importance of understanding that Plan A may not always work. In crafts, as in life, flexibility is crucial.

Photo Maps

Last year NC and I moved in to a new house, and between school and work I’ve been trying to find time to incorporate creative decorating ideas.

Months ago I stumbled upon a great piece (similar to this) which used maps as a decorating medium.

I loved the idea but wanted to make it more personal. The result is four framed maps, each representing a place that is significant to our relationship (where we met, our first vacation, etc).

This project cost about $20 and adds a little personality to our home.

You Need:
– Picture frames. I used 5″x7″ that I found at Michaels for $3 each.
– Matting
– Scrapbook paper. This depends on the size of your maps.
– Maps
– Adhesive. I used Mod Podge, but any glue or tape will work.

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Steps:
1. Cut out equally sized maps. You can center on a specific place or just pick a random section.

2. Trace the outer edge of the matting onto the scrapbook paper and cut. Your paper should either match or be slightly smaller than the matting when held together.

3. Center the maps on the scrapbook paper and attach with your adhesive of choice.

4. Layer the paper and matting behind the glass and close the frame.

There you have it! Short, simple, and a nice conversation piece to have at home.

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Procrastination Project

Instead of working on my J-Term homework last night I decided to make night lights for my room!

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These jars are so simple yet make a great piece for a dark room.

All you need are glow sticks and jars.

First you need to break the glow stick. I recommend using the bracelet variety which have a softer shell than most. Fully release the liquid before cutting the end.

Pour the glowing liquid into the jar and swirl to make designs.

Voila! Five minutes and you have night lights.

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