Summer Is Finally Here...Right?

Most people are all too excited to stash away their winter sweaters, whip out the bathing suits and fire up the grill in anticipation of summer. Most people. I am not one of them. I am fair-skinned, and burn to a crisp in the shade with 70SPF slathered on like an insane person. And I just don't like hot weather (not a fan of winter either, but that's another post). That being said, I guess I shouldn't complain too much that's it's been fairly mild-and sometimes downright chilly- here in upstate New York, but seriously? I've been swimming twice! Anyway, I won't complain too much, like I said, because things on the outside are finally starting to catch up with the inside of the house progress. So this is me NOT complaining. The landscaping is starting to actually look like landscaping-with mulch and everything!- and the yard is being mowed regularly. Mowed, or mown? Hmm, I'll have to look that one up.


Alexia Coupon!

Grab yourself a $1.00 off ANY Alexia frozen product coupon if you "like" them on *Facebook and vote for your favorite fried potato flavor combination. Voting is open from now until March 1st, so hurry!!

*via Alexia Foods e-Newsletter

Roasted Veggies!

Here's a quick and simple method for roasting veggies in a hurry:

Fresh Roasting Vegetables {such as sliced carrots, broccoli florets, etc.}
About 1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Grab a nonstick baking sheet and toss all your veggies onto the baking sheet.
3. Drizzle oil over vegetables.
4. Add a few shakes of salt and pepper.
5. Toss coated veggies with your hands. Arrange Vegetables on the baking sheet in a single layer.
6. Place in oven {middle rack} for about 15- 20 minutes. 

Some veggies- such as asparagus or any thinly cut vegetables- will cook much quicker than others and therefore will not need to be roasted for 20 minutes, so be sure to keep an eye on them!  Hardier veggies such as potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower can withstand that amount of cooking, but you'll still want to watch them. You want them roasted not cremated! It wouldn't hurt to turn veggies over about halfway through cooking, either. Enjoy!

Coffee Can Makeover.

Being a naturally creative person is quite challenging at times. Although I enjoy doing creative things and completing projects, my mind is always spinning with ideas to do this or that (I'm sure I drive Mr. S bonkers sometimes!).

So, never one to succumb to boredom, I decided to re-purpose an empty coffee can. I love re-purposing objects and materials. Here's the can, in all its metal glory before the ol' makeover:

And after:

Here's a shot of the back. Since my scrapbook paper wasn't wide enough to cover the can, I simply cut a small strip at the top of the paper and just attached it to create a seam. No ruler needed! No, it's not perfect, but it doesn't need to be since no one will see it. This coming from a Type -A control freak, mind you).

This project literally took five minutes from start to finish, and it's such a simple yet fun addition to our home office. All you need is a coffee can, some scrapbook adhesive (glue or double-sided tape would work just as well), scrapbook paper (I used acid-free scrapbook cardstock) and some little jewels with a sticky backing if you want to add some bling. That's all there is to it! F-R-E-E pencil/pen/colored pencils/thingamabob holder! An added bonus? It smells like coffee still, even though I washed it out before snazzing it up. Fist pump!

Homemade Dryer Sheet/Scented Drawer Sheet

Ever find yourself wondering what to do with leftover used dryer sheets? Take a cue from the "frugal person's bible", The Complete Tightwad Gazette, and re-use/re-purpose them! Simply add a few drops of your favorite perfume, essential oil or even extract (such as vanilla) to the used dryer sheet. Or, you could really go DIY and cut up some of your husband's shirts he still has around from high school (I'm talking to you, Mr. S!) and apply the extract/oil/perfume. Just rub in the scent a little into the fabric/dryer sheet and voila!

Finding Our Way Again: A Review.

Book Review 1: Finding our Way Again {The Return of the Ancient Practices},

By Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle
Published by Thomas Nelson 

I consider myself to be a "spiritually aware" individual. I am merely a human, limited in my grasp of reality and sense of existence just like any other mortal being. That being said, I love learning about various religions and cultures, and was looking forward to receiving this book written by Brian McLaren, compliments of the Book Sneeze program via Thomas Nelson. I suppose the title should have hinted to the overall tone of the book, but this clue was lost to me initially. The title eludes to a promising and hopeful journey in which the reader can affirm, strengthen and solidify their relationship with God.

Instead, this book was a misguided mix of presumably historical "factoids" and personal anecdotes. The author conveys a "preachy" tone, and seems to ramble in most parts. Early on in the book, this blending of personal and factual seems to work. But, within ten minutes of opening the paperback, I found myself losing interest. The message is never crystal clear. Although there was a marginal degree of redemption with the intriguing Spiritual Exercises at the conclusion of each chapter, yet there was something off-putting about the author's tone.

For the most part, this book was thought-provoking (even insightful in some parts) but I feel like it fell short of its intended message. I felt bored with the author's muddled and unclear message. Reading it felt like I was being given an amateur history lesson by my old Uncle Ralph, who also likes to tell hour-long stories of his favorite fishing trips and how much a loaf of bread cost back in 1945. That is honestly how reading this book felt for the duration. I'm so disappointed, because I assumed this would be a provocative personal account of a spiritual "awakening" of sorts. 

Sadly, this missed the mark, and I have a hard time recommending this to anyone I know personally. I didn't get much from it, so I would expect the same end result for others. If you are looking for a quasi historical account of Christianity/the Jewish Jesus Christ, this might be of some interest to you. However, if you are looking for something more personal and emotive, I suggest looking elsewhere.

**I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.**

Making Over the Stairs!

Before we actually purchased the home we now live in, we shopped around for the "perfect" house...and realized there is no such thing! Thus, our house is not perfect but it works for us right now. It has so much potential to become a true gem amidst a sea of cookie-cutter homes circa 1980. Among the things I desperately wanted to change right away were the stairs. They were covered in hideous tan carpet that had seen better days. I wanted to bring in some of the architectural details and quality craftsmanship of the older homes that I salivate over love, which includes beautiful wooden staircases.

Luckily, I didn't have to wait long to take a crack at the stairs because, well, they were already cracking. Our home inspector "forgot" to mention that the stairs in our home were made of 1/2 inch-thick plywood, held together with some glue, a few staples and a pinch of tension. Oh, and the best part was the fact that the stairs were not even screwed into the studs of the walls. They were just sort of hanging out. The scary thing was that every time we walked on the stairs, we could feel them moving and shifting underfoot. Every time I think about what could have happened had we not discovered the problem in time, I cringe.  Anyway, with the help of a close friend experienced in home renovations, we got to work tearing down the old and bringing in the new. 

This is what we started with:

Hubby inspecting the stairs just before demolition.

Demolition begins!

The old stairs are completely gutted! Please, I beg you- ignore the mess down stairs in the family room. At that time, we were still unpacking. But, for the record, it looks much nicer now! Okay, moving on...

Putting the red oak treads in place that we purchased from Lowe's. Gotta love that place!

Boys and their toys.

Risers and treads in place! It already looked spectacular at this point compared to the "before" condition of the stairs.

Next, it's time for the beautiful reddish brown stain! It's called Red Mahogany by Minwax. In retrospect, staining and painting should have been done prior to installing the stairs, but now we know for next time. Oh well, it's a learning process!

We chose this color as opposed to the honey color hue of our kitchen/living room/dining room floor because we initially planned to refinish said floor in this darker-colored stain. After much deliberation, we  decided to keep the honey color. We simply purchased a box of in-stock flooring at Home Depot and replaced the water-damaged planks with new ones. We like the contrast of the two tones, and plan to continue the dark color upstairs when we install the hardwood floors on the upper floor.

And for the final product (ta-da!)

I am happy to report that the stairs are not only beautiful in person, but are 100% safe! There is no more shifting and no more white-knuckled, nail-biting trips upstairs/downstairs. Beauty and function!