Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Cut My Hair!

I do this thing every few months where I get bored with my hair and I want a change. However, the problem is that I also do this thing where I grow my hair out really long, I cut it all off, I donate that hair, and then I start growing it all out again. So I can't keep cutting it otherwise I don't get to donate it. I also do not color or perm my hair in any way. It's just expensive and not really my thing. I actually love my hair color and have had some super horrible experiences with perms. Insert awkward poodle picture here:

That's me on the left. My cousin is the Curly Sue on the right. My hair was still wet in this picture. It got fuzzy and not so very pretty!

Anyway, back to my point. So I had a dilemma. I wanted a change, but I can't color or perm my hair and I can't cut it. Or at least not all of it. But, I could cut bangs!

And this is literally me, ME, cutting my hair. I have no experience with cutting hair, no training, just a set of itty, bitty scissors since our big ones went MIA, a YouTube tutorial video, and a bit more confidence than I should have maybe, lol. Again, I don't like to spend money on myself so I usually trim my own hair with the pony tail on top of your head technique and save the professional cuts for when I chop it all off and have little room for error.


Once I decided that I wanted to give myself bangs, I searched a couple of videos on YouTube and ended up with this one by Sam Villa  mostly because it was pretty simple and seemed pretty fool proof.

So I went for it! I sectioned off the hair I wanted to cut and did his twist technique and took a breath and started cutting. I started out cutting it longer than I wanted, just to make sure I wouldn't take off too much. So I ended up cutting it about three times before I got it to the length that I liked. And I was impressed. It had a slight fringe to it, looked pretty even, and definitely transformed my look completely. I liked it.


What I did wrong though was take too much from the sides. So, if I do my hair correctly, I get a pretty cute look, but if I don't, I look like I have a slight mullet, lol. I also discovered that the hair style with my hair down kind of makes my face look chubbier, which is no bueno.

I've kind of gotten into the habit now of just sweeping the bangs to one side to create a fun side-bang look rather than the thick bangs in front. But I still have both options. I think side bangs look better with hair down and full bangs look better with my hair in a bun. So all in all, I like it because I have more variety than I did before. And more character. And I do wear my hair up pretty often, so it's nice to have more than just slicked back "bangs" all the time. I had fun with the experience and I have a feeling it won't be my last experiment in cutting my own hair, lol.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Paleo Brownies!

One of the biggest challenges with trying to keep our diet paleo has been desserts. I just don't think it's possible to go without desserts now and then. And it's not just me; Hubby has a sweet tooth too!

I've tried some cookie recipes and some pudding recipes. Spoiler alert: avocado pudding is no bueno. At least the kind I tried. I'd skip that one if you haven't tried it yet. Some of the cookie recipes aren't bad, but I kind of feel like a cookie isn't a cookie unless it has chocolate chips. And I haven't picked up any paleo chocolate chips yet, so they've been lacking something up til now.

I happened to come across this recipe for brownies, one of my favorite desserts, on Taylor Made It Paleo. I was skeptical at first, but I did my quick scan of the ingredients and they all seemed reasonable (we're ok with some honey).  

20140120 072726 Sunbutter Swirl Chunky Chocolate Brownies

I did need to pick up a few of the ingredients, and in the process I ended up swapping out the sunflower seed butter for regular peanut butter (much cheaper). I whipped everything together pretty quickly; it's a pretty easy recipe to follow and didn't take a ton of time either. The hardest part was waiting for them to cool before I could try them! ; )

I was immediately impressed. First bite! It was delicious! Hubby was impressed too. I've since made them for my parents and they both liked them. Again, my dad was not completely blown away by them like we were, but you can't win them all!

So this has become a recipe that I keep and make now and then when we've got a sweet tooth. I bet you could even freeze some and pull them out later for a quick treat. I can imagine it now, warmed up in the microwave with some ice cream on top, like she suggests. Mmm... I'm thinking I need to go whip up another batch right now!

I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut crystals
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 5 eggs
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 3 1/2 tbsp grass-fed butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp full fat, canned coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips (or dark chocolate chips)
  • ½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup sunflower seed butter (or other nut/seed butter)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 9×9 baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine coconut flour, cocoa powder, coconut crystals, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, butter, and coconut milk.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and mix until well combined.
  5. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter evenly into baking dish.
  7. Pour sunflower seed butter over top and “swirl” evenly into batter.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center.
  9. When finished, remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Apple Bumpkin Breakfast Recipe

I've been on the lookout for different breakfast recipes. It really helps Hubby if I have some kind of a casserole that he can just grab and heat up. And it helps me because then I don't have to get up earlier to whip something up, lol. 

I have kind of stuck to two main casseroles and I'll share the first one with you here. It's more of a sweet casserole that I happened to find on The Foodie & The Family website.  Maybe while browsing around on Pinterest? I can't remember exactly. But anyway, this one caught my eye because of the name. It's called Apple Bumpkin Breakfast Bake and the main ingredients are apples, eggs, and pumpkin. Not really the first thing you think of in terms of good combinations, right? But it is so good. So good!


I've kind of gotten into the habit of not putting the almonds on it anymore, just because they can be kind of expensive and we are on a budget. I also have never made it with the coconut for that same reason and also because it's not really a favorite ingredient of mine. But I will tell you that even without those two ingredients it is such a delicious dish! I've been tempted to add in some kind of meat, kinda like the apple flavored sausages I am curious how it would taste to mix the apple and pumpkin with some kind of meat. But that will be an experiment for another day. So far it hasn't been necessary. Hubby says it is not quite as filling as some of the other casseroles I've made, but again, he doesn't really agree that something is a meal unless it contains some kind of meat, and eggs don't count for him apparently, lol.


So here you go, the recipe from The Food & The Family: Apple Bumpkin Breakfast Bake!!



Ingredients:


  • 3 tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2″ chunks
  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 12 large eggs
  • 14 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 14 ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup ribbon coconut (again, I didn't use this)

 Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan well with coconut oil. Toss chopped apples into the pan, spreading evenly over the bottom.
  2. In a large bowl, mash bananas. Whisk in eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, maple syrup (if using), vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Combine well. Pour over apples in pan.
  3. Sprinkle the top of the mixture with sliced almonds and ribbon coconut (optional)
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes; until set. Cut into 12 pieces and serve hot or refrigerate to serve cold.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Treadmill Desk

I posted on my Facebook page a while back that I got bored one day and decided to get a little handy. I actually used a saw for the first time, by myself, with no one else home. That may not have been the best idea I've ever had, but there was no tears or blood, so we're good. 

I was walking on the treadmill and I had happened to grab the top of an old desk that Hubby had taken off. He used the base of the desk for a radio table. So all that was left was a large flat piece. Well, I wanted to read while I was walking, so I wedged the black table top in between the grab bar of my treadmill and the large part where all of the buttons are. I'm getting real technical here, I know! 

It worked because I was pushing down on the free end, which wedged the other end in even more and it barely moved. Well, then I got to thinking... a dangerous pastime, right? (I've been watching too much Disney!)
Credit


I looked around the main room, while I was walking, and saw some old scraps of boards and realized that we have one of those folding TV trays that I could butcher, since we never used it. So I took an old shelf that we got with the house, the top of a folding TV tray, and the top of an old, wheeled computer desk and created ... a treadmill desk!!


I should have taken pictures of the process, but I wasn't all that confident that I could pull it off, to be honest. So I just dove in, hoped I didn't bleed to death, and hoped I didn't ruin anything before Hubby got home! 

I took the shelf and basically cut it in half, to create the sides of the treadmill desk. It was too low to just use the black table top, which you can't see in this picture, so I wanted to build it up a bit. I then just basically screwed the two pieces of the self on both sides of the TV tray and then attached the computer desk top to the bottom.







The black computer desk top is on the very bottom and still wedges in between my grab bar and the panel of buttons, so it stays there just fine, but I wanted to make it a little more sturdy, and support the end that actually holds the computer, especially since I'd probably lean on it a bit.

This part isn't so handy, it's more like I just stuck a long board on top of the handle bars and then wedged a couple of 2x4s in there so the bottom had something to rest on. I don't know if you can follow that, but that's as well as I can describe it. Anyway, here's my treadmill desk!
 

Sorry about the cruddy iPhone pics. I had Hubby take a couple of pictures for me to document it. You can also see that our main/family room is still a big hot mess. No walls and new electric hanging everywhere. I'll post an update about that tomorrow!

The good thing about my treadmill desk/treadmill is that it currently sits right next to an outlet that is in a light switch, so I can plug in my computer and my phone and all kinds of stuff while I work. I can walk, walk briskly, or just stand while I work. It's pretty great. I'm hoping to make a better version of the treadmill desk eventually, but I'm pretty proud of myself considering I had never used the saw before, I put it together after about ten minutes of planning it out in my head, and I did it out of all scrap pieces we had lying around the house. Woo! : )

Hope you enjoyed my tale of the treadmill desk construction. I'll try to do a better job with pictures and details next time I do something like this. Hope you all have a wonderful week! See you again soon!

Monday, March 3, 2014

What's Goin' On In the Family Room?

 Let's see... I really don't remember what all I've shared so far and what I have yet to show, so I'll just start from the beginning and do a total recap of our family room.

This used to be called our dining room, but we decided to switch it around a little bit. So this is now our family room. It's bigger and in the middle of everything and we won't be using the dining room nearly as much as the family room, so it just makes more sense. We are half thinking about leaving the dining table in the family room and making the room that would have been a dining room into an exercise room... but we'll see how that develops.

So this is how our room started out when we first bought the house. We had a drop ceiling. There were plaster walls covered with a paneling. Not just any paneling, but the darkest kind of paneling possible, which really made the room feel small and even with the curtains open, it never got all that light in there. 


And here's a view of the other side. The room on the right will now be our dining room... unless we choose to make it into our exercise room! 

Below is a picture of my mom on the ladder, tearing down the drop ceiling and the tracks to it. Yes, I know you're not supposed to sit on top of the ladder. She marches to the beat of her own drum, lol. After tearing down the drop ceiling, we had a furnace installed, but instead of putting the drop ceiling back up, we decided to go ahead and just frame a ceiling and put up drywall.



So we went ahead and tore off the paneling and knocked down the plaster. I don't seem to have any pictures of that process, or I can't find them on my new computer. But either way, it was a mess and I'm glad it's done! So we were left with no ceiling and no walls. Just studs and exposed wiring.




We took advantage of not having walls to put in some more insulation. It is an on-going process, but hopefully we will get the whole house covered sooner rather than later. 

The framing of the ceiling was a pretty long task. We got most of the boards up and then realized that we didn't have it all leveled out because the original ceiling gently sloped upward in one corner. Rather than putting up drywall at an angle, we decided to readjust every.single.row and made them all level. Not fun at all. But worth it. 

Then came the process of putting up the drywall. We learned our lesson in the bedroom, so we measured twice, cut once ... ok, we had to trim a bit a few times, but nobody's perfect. : )

All in all, it went much smoother than the bedroom's ceiling. We had an extra set of hands and a little more experience under our belts. 


We happen to have two chimney columns in our house. One in the bedroom and one in the family room. So we've had to create a frame around each of those and cover them in drywall. We don't want to tear them down and risk putting a giant hole in the outside wall just yet. So after the ceiling was framed and we got some of the drywall up, we started framing the walls and the column. None of the studs are ever level with the others, so it's a very, very long process of adding shims or 2x4s and getting them all straight. 

Here you can see we have most of the ceiling done (waiting on the furnace and new wiring to be finished before closing it off completely). We also have the column covered. 

 We have gotten most of the walls framed, so we started putting up drywall. It really makes a huge difference in the feel of the room already. Much brighter and cleaner and I love it! Don't mind the mess in that room there, that's just our tool/supply storage room for the moment, lol. And we usually have it blocked off with a blanket because there are some wicked air leaks and it gets cold, so that's why the tube to the furnace is hanging from the ceiling. We moved it so the heat comes to the rooms we actually are using. 

Another angle with the drywall up on the walls. 

Recently I tried my hand at doing it all by myself and got that section to the right of the column done all on my own. It took me quite a while, but I learned a lot in the process.  Gus likes to sit and watch while we work ... and eat any stray pieces of wood (or drywall) that accidentally land in chewing range.

And our last big work day was last weekend and we got another wall finished, except for one small corner piece.  My mom and dad came out and helped us with the walls and the wiring.

This mess is the finished product ... for now. Around that corner on the left there are a few sections that need to be finished, but we now have the entire ceiling done except for the middle part where the furnace needs to be adjusted. 

Next time we need to clean up BEFORE we take the pictures, lol. But here is that small corner. 

We're hoping to work on it a little bit throughout the week and see what we can get done and then have another good go at it this weekend.

We are trying to decide what to do with this corner though. We would really love to move the door from the kitchen into the family room, to that wall to the right of the TV in the picture below. It would really open up our kitchen and I think would just be a better fit for us. The problem is determining if it is structurally sound that way. We also need to create a header for that archway between the kitchen and the family room because whoever built the addition didn't bother with one. So those will be our two big tasks, if we choose to do so... well, the header is a must, but we may end up not moving the door. Or we may wait and move it some time down the road too. We'll see.


So that's where we currently stand. I'll try to update more often as we make more progress!