First of all, let me apologize for the silence over the last couple of months. One of my goals this year was to post at least once a week and we can all tell that didn’t happen. I don’t have a great reason, other than letting myself get busy and distracted. I can’t promise any huge changes, but my hope is to give this ol’ blog some more attention in the coming months.
So, lets get down to the business of why I’m here right now. Today is the first day of fall! And we all know what that means, right? Pumpkin.
I’ve been impatiently waiting for this day all summer and it’s finally here! The day that I can give in to my obsession of pumpkin infused food and drink and not be scolded for it still being summer. The day that fall wreaths and harvest scented candles are socially acceptable. Ah…a good day indeed.
A couple of years ago, I brought you a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup. Although that recipe is a good one, I think I may have come up with a new one that is at least 2 times better. For starters, it calls for about 1/2 of the ingredients and is ridiculously easy. Instead of white sugar like the old recipe, I used brown sugar. That was a brilliant idea (if I may say so myself). It has a rich, molasses-y flavor that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside (if brown sugar can do that, and I propose that it can). Enough small talk…here’s the recipe!
I’m not sure what it is about my Mom, but she has the BEST luck finding things for free on the side of the road. I hope to someday inherit her roadside-freebie-snatching skills. For about a year I’ve been keeping my eyes open for metal chairs to revamp. Ideally, I wanted ones with a cushioned seat, but any old metal chairs (that were less than $10/chair) would do. I wasn’t having any luck finding anything within my price range. Lo and behold, my Mom found 4 folding metal chairs WITH cushioned seats along the side of the road in my hometown. Score!
The problem was, they were in desperate need of some lovin’. Cue angels singing and my name being called from the craft store. For about $30 I was able to breathe some new life into these roadside freebies. Here’s how I did it!
Metal folding chairs
Patterned fabric (I used 1 yard for 4 chairs)
1/2″ foam and/or batting
1/4″ staples and staple gun
220 grit sand paper
Spray paint (~1 can per chair)
Step 1: I began by removing the seat of each chair. One thing that I didn’t do but would definitely do next time is number each chair and seat as well as separate the screws according to which chair they came from. I ran into some issues getting the seats to fit back onto the chairs because I got them all mixed up. This may not be an issue with newer chairs, but you’ll be thankful if you do it with old used ones!
Step 2: I removed all of the staples and took off the old vinyl. Thankfully, the foam was in great shape (although a terrible color of neon yellow!) so I was able to reuse it. If you need new foam, now is the time to trace your seat base and cut out your foam and/or batting.
Step 3: I cut my fabric into 17″ x 18″ pieces. I probably could have cut them a bit smaller, but I found it helpful to have a little extra to pull snugly and then to trim off the excess.
Step 4: I lined up my fabric so that the pattern went in the direction I wanted it to face. I laid my fabric right side down, centered my foam and then lined up my chair seat. Once everything was lined up, I began stapling my way around the seat. I found it easiest to begin on one corner and work my way around the entire seat. It’ll probably take you a bit to find your groove, but once you do it should go pretty quickly! I thought the corners would be tricky, but they actually ended up being pretty easy! (See photos below for how I folded the fabric around the corners so that it would lay flat.) Once you get your fabric stapled down, trim off the excess.
Step 5: I repeated steps 3 & 4 with my vinyl. I ended up using a ton of staples to get it to fit snugly but hey, nobody will see them!
I should point out that my husband picked out the seat fabric. Great choice, huh?!
Next it was time to paint the metal chairs! It was too breezy to paint outdoors, so I moved my chairs into a well ventilated workshop. Please be sure to work in a well ventilated space, spray paint fumes are not good for your brain cells and future offsprings.
Step 6: I pulled/cut off the old rubber feet and sanded the entire chair with 220 grit sand paper. Basically, I wanted to remove any rust spots and rough up the entire surface. Once I sanded down the surface, I went back over the chairs with a damp cloth to remove the dust & dirt.
Step 7: Paint. I chose Krylon indoor/outdoor gloss spray paint in “Bright Idea.” I ran out midway through the project, and had a heckova time finding more since I had bought the last can at our local hardware store. Thankfully, Walmart ended up being the ONE place within 50 miles that carried the brand/color. Word of advice, make sure you have enough paint to start off with! I used about 1 can per chair.
Also, I HIGHLY recommend using this fancy contraption called the Can Gun. My hubby got it for me for Christmas and this was the first time I broke it out. It makes spray painting a dream! No finger cramps or over-spray on your hands. Seriously, go buy one right now!
The essential to spray painting is to do multiple thin coats. Seriously, take your time and wait the manufacturers recommended time between coats. You’ll regret going too quickly because you’ll instantly get drips and splatters. I ended up doing about 3 coats on each chair and they turned out pretty well! I do have a few drips here and there, but nothing that I am going to lose sleep over.
This is what my chairs looked like after one coat of paint:
And after the third coat of paint:
Step 8: I reattached the cushions and voila! New chairs! (See my note above about numbering the cushions/bases/screws).
I still need to get new rubber feet for the chairs. I bought some but accidentally got the wrong size (mental note – measure twice, buy once!). Overall, I’m ecstatic with how these free roadside chairs turned out! They will work really well as additional outdoor seating for our next BBQ or indoor seating for our next movie night. The best part is that if I ever get tired of the fabric, I can easily pop off the seats and change it out! Yay for free chairs that turned out fabulous :)
We are not dieters. We don’t jump on the bandwagon of fad diets simply because they. don’t. work. Josh and I have however, realized how awful we’ve been at eating well rounded meals and that food may actually have a pretty big impact on our bodies and well being. Duh.
This past week we started the Whole30 Program, which is basically Paleo but with a few more restrictions for 30 days. The key things they tell you to avoid are added sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, white potatoes, and preservatives of any kind. The idea of the whole thing is to focus on eating real food – meat, veggies, fruits, eggs, nuts, etc. – and reset your “relationship” with food. I don’t see either Whole30 or Paleo as diets, but rather a lifestyle change. Because I have some auto immune deficiencies, I figured that it could do no harm at all to cut out things that could potentially be causing me more problems (inflammation of my joints, lack of energy, unexplained weight gain, etc.). Although we don’t think we’ll stick with it forever, I doubt that I’ll stray too far from the basics. In the past week, I’ve felt awesome (other than sugar withdrawal headaches). If you’ve never heard of Whole30 or Paleo, I really encourage you to check them out! It is so worth giving it a try, because the worst thing that could happen is that you find you enjoy eating more fruits and veggies!
I’ll do a full recap of what I’ve been eating and will be posting more recipes over the coming weeks, but right now I want to tell you about the banana muffins pictured above. Although some may argue that a few of the ingredients aren’t 100% Whole30 compliant (baking soda & baking powder), I say…pick your battles. I’ve been having a hard time getting a decent breakfast in me before work, so if a wholesome muffin can do the trick I think that’s worth it!
My recipe is inspired by this one. Because I didn’t have cashews or walnut oil, I figured I’d fudge the recipe a little and create my own. (BTW- this gal’s blog has been such a great encouragement to me and has supplied some pretty awesome recipe references! PLUS she’s a young Christian woman who met her husband while working at Camp. Bonus points!)
Grain, Dairy, & Sugar Free Banana Muffins:
Yields 1 dozen muffins
3 very ripe bananas
~1/3 cup almond butter (approximate – I used 2 big spoonfuls)
1 1/2 cups almond flour/meal (if you’ve made almond milk you can use the meal from that!)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. shredded coconut (optional, but delicious!)
Coconut oil to grease your muffin tin
Begin by mixing your bananas, almond butter, and eggs.
In a separate bowl, combine almond butter, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and shredded coconut.
Add dry ingredients into your banana mixture and mix until combined.
Grease your muffin tins and fill with 2/3 full with batter.
Bake for 12-15 minutes at 375 degrees or until toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool completely before storing.
These muffins don’t stand much of a chance of making it through the week. They are seriously delicious! I hope that you enjoy them just as much as we have been :)
Since Christmas time, these blank planks of wood have been hanging on our living room wall staring at me. You may recognize the piece from our Christmas decorations this past year. My handy husband built the piece out of an old fence that blew down during one of our crazy storms a few years ago. I’ve been wanting to do something with it, but I’ve had some serious commitment issues. Not knowing what to paint/write/create, I was worse than a teenage girl choosing an outfit.
While driving home the other night I heard the song One Thing Remains by Jesus Culture come onto the radio. I love the lyrics, which always serve as a reminder that no matter the challenges of the day, God’s love is endless and always there. I had an ah-hah moment when I remembered the blaringly blank wood planks hanging on our living room wall!
A while ago, I found this photo via Pinterest and knew I wanted to try the yarn and nail letters somewhere. I figured that this was a great time to do so! This project turned out way better than I anticipated!
DIY Yarn & Nail Art
A piece of wood or a blank wall where you’d like to create your piece
Nails (I used 1.5″ nails) & a hammer
Your words printed out on paper
Ruller, scissors, tape, chalk & a ballpoint pen
Craft paint & paintbrush
Step 1: Measure out your working area and create your saying in Word or Illustrator. We used this free font from Dafont for the cursive letters and Helvetica Neue for the bold LOVE. My hunky husband created the words in Illustrator for me so that we could get the sizing perfect.
To make sure that my words were straight and spaced evenly, I drew a line along the bottom of each word and simply lined the guide-lines up and spaced the words 1″ apart. You’ll want to tape everything down once you get it situated (if you’re going to paint any of your words like I did, you can hold off on taping those ones).
Step 2: To create your nail outline, simply nail through your paper. You’ll want to be sure to place a nail on every corner of each letter and about every 2 inches in between. For the O, I just kind of eye-balled it, since there aren’t any corners (I actually added more nails to the outside of the O than what are pictured below). I tried to nail all the nails in evenly, leaving about 3/4″ sticking out. Once you get all of your nails in you can tear the paper away. There may be little bits of paper stuck beneath the nails, you can pull them out with your fingers or tweezers if you’re picky.
Step 3: Grab your yarn…
Tie a knot on one nail and begin wrapping! I found it helpful to wrap all the way around the perimeter of the letter and then go back and fill in. There’s not really any specific way to do this, just make sure to cover the entire area and go back around the perimeter a few times at the end. You’ll finish by tying another knot around a nail and trimming your ends.
Step 4: Now, it’s time to transfer your letters for painting (I’ve shown you this technique before over here). Flip your piece of paper over, grab a piece of chalk and cover the letters with a thick coat.
Position your words again, tape them down to secure, and trace with a ball point pen.
This will leave a slight impression in your wood and a chalk line for you to follow with paint. My wood was pretty soft and the pen left a slight indent, so if you have a harder surface or if you’re doing this on a wall you’ll want to really make sure you’ve got the back of your paper covered with chalk so that it will leave a good transfer mark.
Step 5: Once you’ve traced all of your words, break out your paint. I used white acrylic paint. If you’re doing this on a wall or on something that will be outdoors, you’ll want to choose a paint that works best with your environment. Using a small paintbrush, simply fill in your chalk lines. I found it helpful to brush away the chalk dust before painting.
Let it dry and you’re finished! Stand back and be amazed at your masterpiece! Good job! :)
This looks a million and a half times better than the blank wood that used to be there, don’t you think!?
I hope that you’re reminded of God’s unfailing love today. It is because of Him that I have the ability to create and for that I am very thankful.
I have a problem that maybe you can relate to. I love breakfast. But, I love sleep too. Each morning it’s like WWIII trying to figure out which one wins. Typically my love for sleep outweighs my desire to get something nutritious into my body before work. In an effort to fulfill a few of my 2013 Challenges I’ve been slowly working to change this bad habit. I’ve figured out that if I have something reeeaalllyy tasty to wake up to, the Battle of Comfy Bed is more easily won. This recipe comes from my Mama. I’ve tweaked it a little but all glory goes to her for the original idea!
Start off with 2 1/2 cups of rolled oats, 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds, 3/4 cup slivered almonds, 3/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/4 cup ground flax seed. You’ll also want to measure out 1/4 cup canola oil and 3/4 cup honey. Microwave the oil and honey for about a 1 1/2 minutes to warm it up.
Mix the oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, and coconut in a large bowl.
Pour the oil and honey mixture over your dry ingredients, mix to combine, and then spread out onto two parchment lined sheet pans.
Bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees – stirring halfway through, until the nuts are toasty and golden brown. Remove from oven and add your dried cranberries and flax seed and gently mix on sheet pan with a spatula.
Let cool completely on the sheet pan and then store in an airtight container. It will stay fresh for at least 2 weeks!
Add a little milk (some almond milk maybe?!), some yogurt, add it to the top of a smoothie, or just eat it plain. Any and all ways are delicious!
Hope you enjoy this simple recipe as much as I do. You can really substitute a million different things. Next time, I think I’ll use maple syrup instead of honey and add some pecans…maybe even add some cinnamon if I’m feeling crazy! Thanks for the great recipe, Mama!