Monday, September 5, 2011

My oldest having fun at grandma & grandpa's with the cousins on Labor Day. No idea what he has on his head but he's having a ball.

Happy Labor Day everyone.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Vintage Cabinet

In my kitchen there is never enough work space when the DH and I are both cooking.  To rectify this situation I placed an old microwave cart between the stove and the fridge.  I now have more work space and it's the perfect height when I'm making bread, cookies or preparing lunch.  However, it's not the most sturdy thing in the world and anything you put on the bottom is right there, in the open, for the world to see...which means it can't be filled with clutter.  I love the thought of having an island but don't care for the look of the microwave cart so I have been on the hunt for an old cabinet to put in it's place.

My husband was not working today and we had a few hours to sparte before we had to pick our oldest up from school so we decided to head on over to Joe's Antiques & Collectibles...our favorite antiquing store...and take a look around.  No reason really, we just like going there now and again...but we try to avoid it because we always end up buying something we either don't need or don't have room for.

The minute we rounded the corner I saw a cabinet.  It was THE cabinet I had been looking for.  I fell in love...this was the one, this was IT and I HAD to have it!  I snapped a picture of it so I could show it to Joe and find out what he was asking for this was outside of his shop.

We looked around a bit and then I finally got up the nerve to ask what he wanted for the cabinet...I was afraid to ask because I just KNEW it was going to be expensive and my hubby would tell me no.  So, here I go, asking for a price.  I was elated, thrilled, in ga-ga land because he only wanted $10!!!  Ten bucks, are you kidding, SOLD, SOLD, SOLD!!!!!  We paid for the cabinet, loaded it in the van and we were off to pick up our son.

And here she is, the cabinet of my dreams!

Yep, she's a bit worn and needs a good cleaning, but this is going to look perfect in my kitchen and the best part is it has lots of storage for anything and everything I could imagine.  It also has a drawer which will be perfect for so many things!

We have her home and I will definitely find a few minutes to spend with her, get her cleaned up and painted.  I'm so happy I could cry!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Homemade Salsa

We have a 2nd neighbor who hurt his arm quite bad and isn't able to tend to his garden so he asked us to please pick his vegetables and keep them for ourselves because he didn't want them going bad.  We offered to can them for him but he said he had plenty and didn't need his bounty this year. 

There was no way I was going to let his generosity go unrewarded so we traded him cucumbers and eggs for his tomatoes, peppers and zucchini.  When he needs more he will obviously receive them for nothing because we are STILL picking veggies from his garden.

With all of the generosity from our neighbors this year we have been overloaded with tomatoes, and of course we can't allow them to spoil, so we took this opportunity to can some homemade salsa and Pico de Gallo.  I thought this would be a difficult process and wasn't exactly sure how it would taste after being canned.  Much to my surprise the longest part of the process was cutting up the tomatoes and onions.  We canned several jars and have even opened one jar and it is AMAZING!  I will never look at salsa the same.  :o)
This should get us through the next few months...we use a lot of salsa in this house...I'm not complaining by any means and would actually like to make more!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Potato Bin

One problem I have in my kitchen is no storage place.  Okay so I have lots of cabinets but no place to store the kids can reach them without climbing...potatoes, chips, etc.  I used to have them sitting out but that made everything look cluttered and messy.  I had some time to spare before picking my little one up from preschool so I stopped at a thrift store near his school.  I was so excited when I stumbled upon a potato bin.  It was not only cool but in GREAT shape!  They were asking $20 and wouldn't budge on the price but I bought it any way.  It would be perfect in my kitchen!

My new potato bin.  It's not going to stay this color...really, does anything in my house stay in it's original condition, I think not!
When I have a few minutes to spare I will slap some paint on this bad girl and make it look completely different...and make it match my kitchen.  I shall update my potato bin when it is finished.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Thrifting!

Fresh Apples

A friend of my husband's has an apple tree in his yard and doesn't really care to use the apples so he invited our family over to pick some apples to take home. 

As a token of my appreciation, for inviting us into their home, I made a goody basket for the hostess.  She was so amazed at the delicious food I brought for her that she took a picture and called her mother in Bosnia to tell her about her fresh vegetable basket...I thought that was cute.

When we arrived we were amazed at the tons and tons of apples on the tree.

Here is my dear hubby picking the higher apples that the kids and I could not reach...we were waiting for his friend to bring over the ladder.

After playing with the kids and talking with friends we had a tub full of apples. 
Some of them aren't so pretty and some of them are just down right rotten, but the kids were having so much fun I felt guilty taking out the bad apples so I left them in there so I could take the picture.  We had a lot of fun picking the apples and the hostess graciously made us lunch and yummy chocolate brownies for dessert.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hiding the ugly

When we purchased our home we had a wall oven in one location and a cook-top in another.  I never liked this and for the life of me could NOT figure out why you would have your stove and oven in separate mom said that was the 'in thing' back in the 70's.

Right before Christmas our wall oven took a turn for the worse and stopped heating up..with 2 kids that is completely unacceptable!  My parents graciously bought us a new stove for Christmas...oh my was that the best gift ever!

We may have had a new stove and oven in one but our old cook-top was still sitting in the corner and taking up space.  Yes, we could remove it but then we would be left with a hole in the counter and no money to update the counter tops...If it's not one thing it's 10 others!  

This is what I have been dealing with for uneven surface with an outdated cook-top in my working space.
See what I mean!  No room to put my things, no place to work because that stupid cook-top is sitting right there!!!  Not only is it annoying but very unsightly!

I had had enough of this disaster so I went to my husband's work room, grabbed some scrap wood and got to work.  I made a frame out of 1x2's and then screwed some plywood to the top.  I no longer have an uneven surface in the corner of my counters, I'm no longer looking at that ugly cook-top and I stored all of the other items.

Ta da...a clean work surface!  Okay, so it's not really a work surface but now I can place dishes or pretties in the corner and that cook-top has kind of been eliminated.  One day, when we have the money, we will remove that cook-top and redo our counters...let's just hope it's sooner than later!  Yes, it's still plain wood but I have some paint that ties in with my decor and when I have a few spare moments I will be painting that 'box' and making it look a little bit better.

My husband was pretty impressed with what I made...I have been asking him to do something about this for a while and for some reason he just couldn't find the time.  When all else fails turn to your 'girl power' and do it yourself!  :o) 

Canning Tomatoes

Do you remember the post about the tomatoes?  Well we took the majority of those tomatoes and made homemade spaghetti sauce and stewed tomatoes and then canned them for the winter...or for a quick meal, whichever comes first.

Being as we don't have one of those fancy contraptions that peels the tomatoes for you, we decided to go out and buy a food mill.  We weighed the pros and cons and decided on the food mill because there is so much more you can do with a food let's just hope we use it as much as we hope because this sucker was a little costly for my taste.  :o)

We started with blanching and shocking our tomatoes...I got stuck with this fun job.  It was not only time consuming but quite messy I must will be so worth it in the end.  After removing them from the ice water I removed the skins...
Then I took an apple corer and removed the center of the tomatoes...
Here is what we were left with after removing the center of the tomatoes.  We had a ton of centers so we fed them to the chickens...they were in Heaven!

As I blanched and shocked my husband ran the tomatoes through the food mill to prep them for our homemade spaghetti sauce.

 Yes, this was a two person job.  We had so many tomatoes I would have been cooking until the cows came home!  The tomatoes were prepped so we began making the spaghetti sauce.  We don't have a recipe for the sauce, we just add stuff until it tastes right.

I will tell you what we added to the tomatoes to begin our sauce: tomatoes, diced onion and green peppers, basil, oregano, parsley, minced garlic, garlic powder, thyme, salt and pepper.  I suggest adding spices you find appealing, whatever spices you would normally cook with.  If you don't generally cook with a lot of spices then search the internet for a spaghetti sauce recipe that will satisfy your taste buds.

We simmered our spaghetti sauce until it was reduced by about half...simmer until you get the consistency of spaghetti sauce from the can...about 3-4 hours.  Now that the sauce is ready we began the canning process.  We placed the sauce in freshly cleaned jars, placed the jars in our pressure canner with about 12 lbs of pressure.
The end product was amazing.  The jars not only looked nice but we did use some of the spaghetti sauce for dinner and I was so impressed with the outcome I would love to do it again!
When my neighbor came home from his trip we graciously split our bounty with him.  None of this could have been possible had we not gotten the tomatoes from his garden!

As for our stewed tomatoes, we followed the same process but did not run the tomatoes through the food mill, we just cut them up into large chunks, added diced green peppers and diced onion and then heated the mixture.

Once it was heated through we began the canning.  And our end result...

What would I do differently next time...nothing!  This was a fun learning experience and we now have food for the winter.  I had a great time working with my husband and now I REALLY want my own farm so I can grow even more food to sustain my family.

Thanks for stopping by and happy cooking/baking/couponing!
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