Saturday, July 21, 2012

Designing a Teenage Boy's Room: Jay's Lounge

Hi Friends!  Well....whew....Jay's room has been completed!  Jay is our 16 year old, funky, artsy, techhyyyy son.  He had been living in a bedroom complete with bunkbeds from toddlerhood and a mishmash of other items.  His closet was made of hideous huge mirrored doors trimmed in fake brass, circa 1970.  While the doors did not really bother him, I very much wanted simple plain white sliding closet doors for this room that would blend with all the other six-panel doors in the house.

A few months back I posted my design ideas for Jay's room using Polyvore....

which were partially influenced by a little table I found at the Long Beach Antique Flea Market...

Anyway, here we are a few months later and I am finally finished with the room.  I decided against a freestanding desk, and instead designed a free-floating desk to accommodate Jay's computer, gaming, art, and homework needs.  The desk is stained in a dark ebony, and our very talented contractor fabricated the whole thing and installed some very cool brackets!  :)

A matching shelf holds sketchbooks and more art supplies. 

I like this industrial look for Jay's room.  :)

The sofa below was purchased from Overstock.  It is actually a futon that Jay can sleep on.  It is easy to move the "coffee table" out of the way to the side of the desk when needed since it is on wheels.

The walls are painted Dunn Edwards "Whisper" below the chair-rail, and Ben Moore "Grey Owl" above.  New thicker baseboard mouldings were added as well.  The entire house is now uniform with these mouldings and I cannot tell you how happy this simple detail makes me.  :D

Of course, his art is not my style, but at least he agreed to place his posters in frames.  A whiteboard comes in handy for making lists and hanging his sketches...

The new closet doors are seen below (old doors were given away via Craigslist)....this huge window is largely responsible for all the glare in my photos today!  Argh.

We retained his bookcase and dresser/mirror set and I think they blend in great with the other pieces.

Of course, he liked the can of coke in my little Polyvore design board here's that element.  :)

Overall I would say that using Polyvore actually helped me plan this little space because Jay could see the plan for the space.  I was able to pull some elements together with his input and tweak it until it seemed about right.  Of course, the room turned out a bit different, but it really was a good starting point.  Polyvore is free and you certainly do NOT need to be any kind of expert or designer to use it so I would encourage anyone to check it out (if you haven't already!).

Jay can easily take these pieces with him when it is time to move out....the desk can be reinstalled or left for us to use his room as an office.

Thanks for coming on this little tour! 


Friday, July 20, 2012

Minimalist Kitchen and Recipe Binder Project

Hi Friends!  Today I thought I would share a recipe binder project that I completed at the very start of summer break.  No, it's nothing especially beautiful to look at....but it is beautiful because it is simple (see my quest for more simplicity in my life here if interested).


Have you ever found yourself with too many cookbooks, too many diet and nutrition books, magazines, websites, and even cooking/dieting advice?

Anyone know what I am talking about?

It's excessive and it can also be obsessive.  At least, it can be for me.

Rather, I want things to be simple.

Simple....and healthy.  Yup, that's what I am after.

So, with the exception of one very old and very faithful cookbook that my husband and I scraped our pennies together to purchase many, many, many years ago, I got rid of all the others.  Yes, I purged them......I gave them away, sold a couple back to amazon, and recycled a few that were in bad shape after snipping out my favorite recipes.

You know all those recipe cards and bits of paper you've written recipes on?  Well, I kept those that I have repeatedly used....they've a new home in my recipe binder.  So many of them were on post-it notes!

And you know all those recipes that you think you will make someday?  GONE.

What remains are all of my favorite tried and true recipes that I use with at home.  Healthy, simple recipes.

I figure if I need to cook up something gourmet, I will just google it.  Why should I have 20 cookbooks taking up space that could be better used for something else?

Plus we now have so many virtual cookbook sites as well as Pinterest!

So here we are.....

It did not take me too long to assemble.

Here is a look inside....I used tabs for all the categories I felt I would need.  Yes, there is a tab for "Cookies..."  :)

I stuck each recipe onto a plain sheet of thick paper that I had on hand from an old design project with double sided tape, maximizing space by placing multiple recipes on a page if they would fit.

I covered each double sided sheet with sheet protectors to help with splatters.

If you are into a minimalist kitchen, I would recommend this project.  I cannot tell you how good it felt to purge the cookbooks and diet books.  A chronic dieter, I already know what works, what doesn't, and what I need to do to best care for my body and to help keep my family healthy.  Enough with buying the latest "whatever" diet or cookbook.  I'm afraid it's been a tremendous waste.

Next up, I will be simplifying my kitchen cabinets and all of my cooking and baking gear. 

For anyone interested, I posted earlier this year about my pantry organization and attempts to reduce waste buy buying in bulk and reducing processed snack foods.  Let me know what you think!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Homemade "Yogurtland"

I don't know if ya'll are anything like me, but sometimes summer just screams "Frozen Yogurt!"

Thanks to this gift I have been able to create a homemade version of Yogurtland for my family.  I like this because it is less expensive, less wasteful (landfill from containers, etc), and I can control the ingredients (organic fruit, nonfat yogurt, honey, etc).

Here is how I do it....

Take about 1C nonfat plain Greek yogurt, 2-3C frozen berries (here, I used strawberries), and about 1/4-1/3C honey or sugar (I have also used Stevia here)....I like mine tart, but if your children like it sweet, just add a bit more honey or sugar...

THREE ingredients, folks!

Blend using a high powered blender until the desired consistency has been achieved.

Voila!  Below, I added a few semi-sweet chocolate chips for my son.

This yogurt tastes like a fabulous dessert and is high in protein plus a great serving of fruit.  The cost is about half that of the yogurt shop.

I call that a win!  :D


Monday, July 9, 2012

Powder Room Update

Hi Friends!  Yes, I have been busy this year with home improvement projects.  To be brutally honest, I am trying to get a few important home projects accomplished before older son goes off to college and I have fewer funds with which to work!  All three bathrooms in our home have had plumbing issues of one type or another and I am happy to report that all three have been completely repaired and updated.  :)  That makes me feel good, and they should be in good shape for a very long time to come.

When we renovated the master bathroom there was extra beadboard I had it installed in our powder room (I mean, really....why waste it???):

New lighting from the Martha Stewart collection at Home Depot.  Mirror from Lowe's.  The sink, vanity, countertop and faucet all stayed the same, though I did swap out the vanity pulls and knobs.  :)

Towel rack (and roll paper holder not shown) also from Martha Stewart/Home Depot...

The little table below was on sale for $17, and I like how the tans and grays of the slate top blend in.

The real reason the powder room was updated was because the flooring was absolutely horrible.  I don't even want to look to see if I own a photo of it....but it was a horrible ceramic tile with multiple grout attempts and shades and just a disgusting color to boot!

I did not want any grout lines in this new flooring because this is sort of a pass-through area from our garage (on one side is our laundry area, and on the other side is this little bathroom).

Below is a close-up of the flooring (very cute rug from Target):

The flooring is called Allure from the Home Depot.  It is a vinyl made to look like wood.  We also used it in our boys bathroom and have been very happy with it (it is also extremely affordable and easy/quick to install).

I am not sure why but my Humble Laundry Room post is one of the most frequently viewed on my blog.  I do believe there is a picture of the very ugly flooring that I have been talking about in that post.  Anyway, since the laundry area joins this powder room space, the Allure flooring was run through the laundry as well.

And nice, thick new baseboards were added.  :)

Below is a photo of the laundry room pass through floor area complete with a new runner rug, also from Target.  

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour!


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Orange Juice Muffins

Hi Friends!  If you have visited my blog before, you may know that I strive to be pretty green/eco friendly.

Part of this effort includes refusing to let anything go to waste unless it is absolutely necessary.  :) 

Earlier this year, I had so many oranges (even after giving many part thanks to the orange tree in our tiny back yard) that I came up with a recipe for a very yummy Orange Juice Cake.

For that recipe please click here:  Orange Juice Cake

Anyway, for this go-around of "one too many oranges" I decided to make some rustic muffins.  These muffins are dense, filling, tasty and a great way to use up leftover oranges or orange juice.  I compost the peels so nothing is wasted.  :)

Here is the simple recipe:
2C whole wheat flour (next time I will try 1C white and 1C wheat)
1 t. baking soda
1/2t. salt
1/3C sugar (I will add a touch more next time)
1C fresh OJ
1 egg
1/3C oil
optional orange zest....just grate a little in
optional powdered sugar for garnish on top

mix everything together but do not overmix....use cooking spray on muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for about 17 minutes.

These are a nice breakfast muffin.  Even though I love to bake I do avoid turning on the oven in the summer unless it is early in the day, so these fit the bill!

Let me know if you try them!  Lemon would be fabulous as well.  I have also used up excess grapefruit in the OJ Cake Recipe above, simply by substituting grapefruit juice for OJ.  :)


Monday, July 2, 2012

Trash to Treasure: Bar Cart Makeover

Hi Friends.  Today I thought I would show a before and after.  :)  A couple of months ago, my older son and I went to the Long Beach Antique Flea Market, where I spotted a circa 1980s bar cart.  One too many old flicks influenced me long, long ago that I needed one of these "martini" carts in my life.  In fact, I recall asking my husband when we were furnishing one of our first rental spaces if I could, in fact, have one....but as I recall, he felt the money was better spent elsewhere.  ;)  That was long ago.  So when I spotted this little cart for mere dollars at the Flea Market, I scooped it up.  Here it is in it's brassy (not real brass, actually!) 1980s glory:

I lived with it in our dining room for a while and could not decide whether or not I loved or hated it, even though the idea of this cart very much appealed to me.  :)

So this past weekend, I decided to give it a little bit of new life. 

First I spray painted it with some leftover spray paint, but it ended up looking too industrial for me.  So for about $10 I picked up some pretty silver craft paint, and hand painted it free hand.  I cleaned up the glass shelves really well and then just for fun styled it with things I had around the house (and to practice my photography a bit!).

Here it is all painted up and styled as a real bar cart (we barely drink so finding props for this one was a bit problematic!):

The photo below reminds me of one of the gray, sultry days of The Great Gatsby.

Next up, I styled it as a coffee cart.  Much more my speed.  :D

Finally, I did a little summer twist on the cart, just for fun:

Hydrangeas from my yard...

Right now it is simply storing some platters and a basket with silver napkin rings in my dining room.  I also rearranged the art in the dining room and recovered my dining chairs with an upholstery fabric that I found for $2 a yard!!!!  I will post those photos soon.

Thanks for visiting.  Have you ever done a "trash to treasure" type of project?  I would love to hear.  :D

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