Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Remember when...

Remember when you had a laundry DAY?  When you took one evening during the week to get all the laundry done, and then you were good for another week.

Now you have to do two LARGE loads a day just to keep your head above water, and heaven forbid that anybody gets sick on the bedding when its not bedding wash day.  That's right, it gets its own day, and if you become lazy even once it starts looking like this almost immediately.

Remember when you and your honey decided to take an impromptu trip somewhere?  Remember how you were able to fit all you both needed for the weekend into a duffel bag?  Then you were ready for whatever adventure lay ahead.

Now you are lucky if you can squeeze all you need into TWO large suitcases, and that's only if you will have access to laundry facilities.  Then you will also have to bring along extra diapers and wet wipes because if its one thing you don't want to be caught being short on, its diapers.  If your little darling suddenly gets a serious case of the diarrhea (which on a road trip is completely awful) you DO NOT want to be caught lacking the supplies necessary to contain the me on this one.

Remember when you could cruise in a small compact car that used almost no gas?

Now the only vehicle that can transport your super sized family, and all of the accompanying equipment is a suburban that you are lucky if it gets 17 miles per gallon in gas.

Remember when all of your groceries fit very comfortably in the bottom of the shopping cart?

Now every shopping trip looks like you are hoarding food for the zombie apocalypse because you have not one over flowing cart, but two.

Remember when you and your darling could eat out for less than $25 at a fairly nice restaurant?

Now you can't get away with spending less than $30 at the cheapest fast food joint around.

Remember when you had a personal clothing budget so that you always looked like a snappy dresser in public?

Now you are a pro at finding awesome deals at garage sales, clearance racks, and know exactly which thrift store has the best gently used clothes and lowest prices.

Remember when you got to eat food off your own plate?  Without sharing unless you were feeling charitable.

Now the food you prepared for dinner isn't eatable from anywhere but off of your plate.

Remember when you cheered because your child learned to open doors, and you were so proud because it was further evidence that they were progressing in their development?

Now you want to cry in a fetal position because your youngest has mastered the fine art of door opening, when her older sister hasn't beat the compulsion to get into and destroy everything she encounters.  Now they are two against one.  Those aren't odds you are happy about.

Remember when you needed a specific recipe if wanted to cook anything other than spaghetti, oatmeal or scrambled eggs?

Now you have gotten so inventive in your meal making that you have made crazy yummy tacos,  sloppy joes, and spaghetti with meat sauce...all from left over meatloaf.  Just so you don't waste food when there are starving children in the world. (My kids still don't know.   So don't rat me out.)

Speaking of leftovers...remember when you had some?  Remember when you struggled to eat them all before they evolved to the point that they sprouted eyes and walked out of the refrigerator on their own?

Now you are lucky if there ARE any leftovers.

Remember when you got your child fully dressed daily with their hair completely fixed.

Now pants on the younger children is completely optional, and hair doesn't get fixed unless you leave the house.

Remember when you went to the bathroom by yourself...IN your own home...IN your own bathroom?

Now you are lucky to sneak off for a quick pee without World War III breaking out in the hallway as all of your children vie for your complete (and captive) attention.

Remember when you got tired, and went to bed for your requisite 8 hours?

Now you are lucky to rack up 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, but more often than not its really more like 4 hours.

Remember when you only needed to run the dishwasher a few times a week because thats how long it took you to fill it up.

Now you run it a few times a day, and still wash some dishes by hand.

Now life IS more complicated, but it is also infinitely more rewarding.  I'm ok with not getting as much sleep, getting to eat off my own plate, go to the bathroom in peace (by myself), or getting to travel with a manageable amount of luggage if it means that I get to be mother to the best bunch of ladies ever.

DISCLAIMER:  I will say that my family of seven, parents included, barely quantifies "super" sized. Having five children hardly makes a blip on the super sized family spectrum.  Also, the views and experiences expressed in this post may or may not have happened or are currently happening at our house.  I'll let you be the judge.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Are you Granola?

Do you wear your healthy-ish eating on your Facebook page for all to see?   While you are scarfing down ho ho's faster than any competitive eater in the dark pantry so you don't get busted.  For once I can say I haven't ever done that.  Mostly because I'm not entirely sure what a ho ho really is.  Nor do I even remotely claim to be into healthy eating.  So maybe I have scarfed down a ho ho in the dark, and just never knew.  (Note to self find and identify exact what a ho ho is.)  All that being said I have been on a huge kick of eating vanilla greek yogurt.  If you haven't tried greek yogurt yet you are seriously missing out.  What could make eating yummy yogurt even better you ask?  If you are me its some yummy granola to sprinkle on the top.  That and I love eating granola WAY better than eating any store bought cereal.  A few weeks back I asked all my peeps on Facebook for good granola recipes, and I hit the jackpot.  I also forgot to save any of those, and now can't find any of them.  Total bummer.  So tonight I was on a mission to make granola.  So I needed a recipe.  Where does one go for a recipe for just about anything on the face of the planet?  Pinterest right?   Well tonight pinterest didn't come through for me.  I know I was shocked too, but it was bound to happen eventually.  Mostly because all the recipes on there called for things I didn't have on hand, and me in my infinite laziness didn't want to drive 11 miles one way just to go to the store for a few ingredients.  So I had to make up my own recipe, and hope it didn't tank.  Here's how it went.

Backwoods Babies Crap I Had On Hand In My Pantry Granola (I might need to find a shorter name)
4 cups oatmeal (I only had quick oats)
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp honey ( I used local honey)
1/4 cup of flax seed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (because Destructo Girl likes to eat straight cinnamon)
1/2 tsp salt

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl, including the pecans.  Then melt the coconut oil in a liquid measuring cup.  This should only take about 30 seconds.  Pour the melted coconut oil into the dry ingredients, and give it all a quick stir to fully distribute the oil.  Then using your oily measuring cup measure out your honey, and heat for 30 seconds.  The oil residue left in the cup will ensure that all the honey comes out easily, and slightly heating it makes it more fluid moving so it is easier to fully stir the honey onto all the oats. Then add the vanilla, and stir the heck out of it.  When it has been well mixed, pour it out onto a large cookie sheet.  Put in the oven, and toast for 20-22, stirring halfway through.  Keep an eye on it as it can burn super easily.  It will come out looking like this.

Looks yummy right?

Here it is up close.

This is a mildly sweet granola. If you want it more sweet just add more honey, or throw in some brown sugar with the dry ingredients.  I personally like it on the lower end of sweet because I can't handle very much sweetness in the morning, and that is when I eat granola the most.  So just make up your own batch of, Crap I Had On Hand in the Pantry, granola.  Then eat and enjoy.

UPDATE:  I know.  How could I possibly have an update again so soon.  Okay so this granola has been a stinking sensation at my house since I made it.  It was almost completely gone after the first I had to make some more.  I decided this time to tweak things a bit.

So this time around I had been to the store, and got a few extra supplies.  I grabbed a bag of unsweetened coconut (because my kids like it), a bag of craisins (dried cranberries), and raw slivered almonds.  Those all made an appearance in the new batch, and it was crazy good.  Normally I have all of those things on hand.  However, my toddler recently learned how to open door, and it has been a buffet life for her ever since.  She is paying the price for eating that much dried fruit though so hopefully she'll steer clear of that next time.  I also upped the honey to 2/3 cup because the munchkins were wanting it a bit sweeter.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Frugal Decorating 101: Dumpster Diving

Trash to treasure, dumpster diving, or digging through the garbage can like a kid looking for their broken crayon that their mom rightfully trashed, can all be valid ways to get materials for decorating.  If there is anything I've learned from my children its that you never take out the garbage without thoroughly digging through every last piece to see if your sneaky mother has decided to toss your latest "treasure".  Treasure of course could be anything from a popped balloon, to a pudding cup that hasn't been extremely scrapped clean (if you are almost two and hard up for chocolate).  I kid...mostly.  This project was literally saved from the garbage can...well at least part of it.

Señor Hotness asked me if I had any extra frames, from my last thrifting trip a few months back,  that I could use to make up a nice sign for a family at church.  That was a big YES.  He wanted me to make a sign that had the The Family: A Proclamation to the World, and of course I couldn't just print off a standard sign.  It had to be pretty.  Like something I would want in my own home.

As a youth, at church, I remember making up pretty framed signs.  One in particular was a beautiful poem overlaid a picture of the Savior.  They used a shear card stock, but I didn't have anything like that.  What I did have was tissue paper and huge book of awesome craft paper.

Lets all please ignore the fact that I worked a portion of this project on my unmade bed.  It happens.  I'm not proud of it.

I took a piece of printer paper, a pack of white tissue paper, and my awesome book of craft paper.  I had the theory that you could print onto tissue paper so long as it was carefully taped to a regular paper.  Then I could move it over to the pretty paper.  Easy peasy right?   Wrong.  I pulled out the tissue paper, cut it to size, and carefully taped it to the printer paper.

I used masking tape instead of scotch tape simply because I knew where the masking tape was.

In the printer ready to give it a go.

This go around almost worked, but half way down the sheet the tissue paper wrinkled and messed up the words.  So then I felt like if it wasn't even remotely wrinkled it would work.  That and it felt like the heat of the printer slightly shrank the paper contributing to the wrinkling problem.  So then things got serious.  I pulled out something that so rarely gets used around here that I had to dust it prior to using it...

That's right, ladies and gents, the ironing board.  This is one item that Señor Hotness wished saw way more use.

If only this picture showed how truly dusty this sucker was you all would be properly horrified, and feeling super sympathetic for Señor Hotness.

So then I decided that if I ironed both the printer paper, and the tissue paper it would do its weird shrinking business prior to getting into the printer and be fine.  Here is where I ran into a problem.  I actually needed the rest of the tissue paper for another project so I didn't want to use it all up trying to get this right.  So I was racking my brain when I looked in my bedside waste paper basket, and what was in there?!?!  Besides trash you ask?  Tissue paper from Señor Hotness's most recent batch of dry cleaning.  I don't know if all dry cleaners do this, but all of his suits come back with the sleeves stuffed full of tissue paper.  So I had a waste paper basket full of exactly what I needed.  Total score right?  So after some minor digging in the trash my project was back on track.

Ready for the iron.

After ironing all of it, trimming it, and then carefully taping it, it was time try the printer again.  This time was SO close.  It wrinkled at the very bottom this time around.  Then I had a light bulb moment.

See that black lid WAY back there in the back.

Bam!  I had spray adhesive.  I have had this spray adhesive for almost two stinking years, and I have used it exactly zero times.

To use this I would need to put it straight on the pretty finish paper.  So this was a sink or swim round.  So I ironed them both again.  Then I carefully sprayed my craft paper, on the patterned side, with spray adhesive.  I may have had a moment of stupidity madness and sprayed this indoors...DO NOT SPRAY THIS INDOORS.  It smells horrible, but it did dissipate fairly quickly.  Then I came back with my sticky hands, and smoothed the tissue paper over the, now sticky, craft paper.  I really rubbed it in, and smoothed it out to make sure that it was completely adhered to the paper below so that it couldn't possibly wrinkle during the printing process.

I folded the corners like I was wrapping a present when I taped in on.

Here it is all ready to go.

Here goes nothing...


Now it was time to turn my attention to the frame.  I paid $.50 for the frame from Good Will, and there wasn't anything special about it except it was wood and not plastic, and came with it's very own sheet of glass.

This looked okay, but certainly not great.

I opted to paint it with acrylic glue.

In Ivory White Gloss.

One coat down, but definitely not where I want it.

I only did two coats total.  This didn't cover all the underlying wood, but made for a slightly streaky topcoat.  I left it because after I add the glaze it will be added depth to the overall finished look.

This was after I added the glazing to the top, left and bottom of the frame, and it was looking exactly how I wanted it to.

Doesn't it look awesome?

I always have the hardest time with the corners, but I think it turned out nicely.

Here is one up close.

In the end I was a little sad that this was meant to be a gift for someone else.  Then I realized that that made me sound like an incredibly uncharitable person, and then I remembered that I made this entire thing out of stuff that I literally had lying around or, you know, trash.  So now that I have field tested this I can make another one even more personalized to match the decor in my home.

So there you have it folks.  How I used something out of the trash to help me make something that ended up looking crazy spectacular.  Now go forth and be a trash digger.  You may just find that special something that adds the perfect touch to your next up coming project, or a nasty old sandwich.  Its a gamble, but aren't most things in life worth a little risk?  Also you really can't beat a $.50 price tag for something that ends up looking like this.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Quilted Dressers: An Adventure in Decoupaging!

Anyone love Ikea?  The swedish meatballs alone warrant a trip, right?  Not to mention the awesome children's play zone so you get to shop in peace.  They also have a funky, fun European vibe to an affordable price.  There are a few drawbacks to Ikea.  The layout is way weird (to me anyway).  The fact that you have to assemble EVERYTHING they sale.  Perhaps the biggest drawback is that much of their furniture is in fact particle board covered in laminate.  My official policy is not to purchase anything that wasn't made out of solid wood.  However, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.  Desperate times, of course, translating to I have FIVE daughters that needed immediate clothes storage.  Desperate measures roughly meaning that I couldn't find what I needed on craigslist.  Which is rare indeed.  So we invested in four white Ikea Malm 4 drawer dressers.  

Again ignore the ghetto floor.  We still haven't put down a finish floor in the formal living room.  Señor Hotness has been beyond crazy busy, and if the project requires me to use more than a power sander unsupervised, it doesn't get done until he is available.

They were cost effective, and available immediately.  Not my ideal choice, as that would be solid wood, but it was the one we went with.  These were also purchases done prior to me starting Backwoods Babies when I thought I needed to buy already done furniture (translation the stuff I looked at was generally a fortune).

Fast Forward a few years, and they have held up relatively well but not awesome like I want them to be.  I have been surfing craigslist for a while looking for something with a bit more character that will still hold enough clothes.  No such luck so far.  These two are the dressers that my 3 youngest use, but most of the dressers/chest of drawers I have been finding have a odd arrangement of drawers that would provide the storage needed for one or two but not all three, for sure.  So while my search continues I decided to snazzy these two up a bit, and make them a little less boring and a little more girly and fun.  My three youngest are very much still a fan of everything glittery and pretty pretty princessy.  So over the top girly was my goal.  These are made of laminate over particle board, and while I know that laminate can be painted I'm way too lazy to deal with having to properly prep the surface to make sure that the paint can't just be scrapped off at a later date with the fingernail of a bored child.  Also there were a few blemishes that I was afraid might give me problems. 

Clearly I have a budding artist whose specialty is carvings that display the stark beauty of a tic tac toe grid.

This unfortunate blemish happened during our last move, and it is pretty badly damaged as the particle material underneath is completely exposed.  Its only saving grace is the fact that it is so small.

After evaluating my options I decided to consider decoupaging craft paper on the surface.  I have successfully decoupaged on plastic buckets, and on other small laminate items but certainly nothing of this scale.  Also I had a super low budget for the project as in less than $15 dollars (for both, not each).  At first I considered using the mega book of craft paper that has been calmly passing time in storage under my bed until it is called on again to make something awesome.  I quickly discarded this idea since it is a big book of funky, cool damask patterns and not at all in the realm of pretty, pretty princess.  Then I remembered the Hobby Lobby gift certificate that has been burning a hole in my pocket for a while now.  The only down side to using my gift certificate was that there were numerous projects that were needing to get a start with that one gift certificate.  I won't go into details since those are projects that I will be featuring at a later know when I have both started and finished them.  So suffice it to say that the magical, wish granting, crafting fairies were with me on my errand, to stretch my money, that day.  As I was able to get ALL that I needed for my upcoming crafting delight.  I love Hobby Lobby.  I was able to get all the things I needed for the future projects because they were on sale 30% off, and then I was able to get super cute (although more expensive) craft paper because there was a phone app coupon for 40% off any regularly priced item.  Bringing that $20 book of paper down to just under $12.  Can't beat that price to completely make over TWO dressers.  It was also exceptionally awesome as it meant zero dollars out of pocket.  As for the decoupage glue that I used...I have never purchased real bona fide decoupage or mod lodge glue.  There I said it.  I have only made my own using the following recipe.  Be careful to follow every step precisely and write it all down for later use.

Sarah's DIY Decoupage Glue Recipe:
-1 part water
-2 parts elmer's white school glue

Doesn't get any better than that.  Honestly I have used watered down wood glue before, but wood glue can alter the color slightly as it doesn't usually dry clear the way regular school glue does.  So the last time I made it was three years ago when I sacrificed a $.30 bottle and a little old mason jar to the cause of cool and fun decoupage projects everywhere (or maybe just my house).  Seriously I have been working off of that same jar for years.

So after I found the perfect paper.

See?  Isn't is so wonderfully girly?  Each pattern had glittery sections on it.

I needed to devise a plan of attack execution how to arrange the paper on these bad boys to make it superbly awesome.  Now something I have been desperately wanting to do is a herringbone pattern, but alas, I am so super lazy/impatient that I don't want to have to fully tape that off then wait for certain areas to dry before repositioning tape and then painting again.  So I thought that this would be the perfect way to pull it off I just had to cut these 60 sheets into even width strips. Which isn't hard if you own one of these.

Behold my paper cutter...isn't it wonderful?

These sheets were all 12 by 12, and I decided that 3" widths would make the decoupaging much less tedious.  Note I didn't say there was NO tediousness...just less of it.  So because my powers of estimating truly stink and math is not my strong suit I cut up the entire book.  Each pattern had three pages, and I got four strips per page...I'll let you do the math there.  Let me just say I went a little over kill with it, but cutting paper is something super easy to do at night when the tv is on and the kids are in bed.  

So then I started with the very tops.  I decided to do a random alternating pattern.  The only thing I tried to do was pay attention that there wasn't too much color in one area, and maybe not placing all the super busy patterns all in the same section.  During the course of this I realized that it looked like a super awesome quilt pattern...and I LOVED it.

Each time before I started gluing, I would lay out a few pieces just to get a feel of how it would look.  Then I started gluing it down using my trusty foam brush (probably my most frequently purchased item as a DIYer, I use a ton).

The finished product looked like this

This was the close up sneak peek that I put on Facebook to wet everyones appetite.

The tops took me a few hours.  The beginning of every project I do starts out slow.  As every project is slightly different, and generally needs to be approached in a slightly different manner.

After the tops were done I decided to only do the very top, and the drawer fronts so that the busyness of the over all look wasn't so overwhelming.

By the end of the first night I had the tops and the top drawer done, on both dressers.

I just pulled out two drawers at a time, and took my project into the family room to do while Señor Hotness worked on his stuff, and we let TV be our back ground noise (holy run-on sentence batman).

The next day I worked like mad all night, or you know, one hour during nap and then again two hours after the kids got into bed. 

And I...

Finished it...well the decoupaging part at least.

So five coats of Minwax Polycrylic in gloss, a move to the little girls bedroom later and...

All the drawers are in, and I love it.  It looks super cute with their flower light (also from Ikea).

Princess Almost Two was helping me get everything just so.

Here is a side view.  I love the colors with the yellow wall paint.  Which is good because I am NOT repainting for a while.

We obviously have three Minnie fans in the room.

Princess Almost Two is super happy about her new fabulous dressers, and over the fact that I didn't bust her when she got into the chocolate this morning.

And now for the REST of the story...............

This may have occurred when someone (who will remain nameless and blameless) decided that she was awesome enough to move these all by herself without the help of Señor Hotness who was at work.  This crack while mild looking is actually kind of bad.  What may or may not have happened is "Nameless" decided that it needed to move back just a smidge, and may or may not have accidentally put her knee completely through this piece.  It can be fixed with a piece of wood on the back side to brace it, and wood glue with clamps to hold it all together until the glue has formed an unbreakable bond (screws or nails may also be called for).  When Señor Hotness gets home "Nameless" will most likely confess to her own stupidity, and humbly ask him to fix it.  

So with a little bit of money and willingness to do tedious work you can make that ordinary piece of furniture that you have kicking around something truly extraordinary.