Posts Tagged ‘home improvement’

  • Dinner and a table

    Date: 2010.12.05 | Category: home improvement | Response: View Comments

    You may recall that last week I showed you a picture of our old table:


    After spending every single night this last week in the basement doing something with the table – priming, painting, finishing, I am finally done.  As I mentioned, I followed Younghouselove’s directions on how to paint a table

    I put the last coat of finish on Friday night at 10 PM after a movie – that’s dedication, people.  Then I waited patiently until today to put it in our kitchen.  Actually that’s totally not true.  On Saturday while “waiting” for the finish to dry, I kept myself and Mark busy by putting up the Christmas tree, Christmas lights, and raking the yard.  Some people might say I don’t know how to relax, and I would beg to differ.  I know how to relax, I just don’t do it.

    The tree!



    Alright, alright, I made YOU wait too.  So here’s the “after” of the table:


    Side by side


    The table with food on it.


    I have a great recipe to share with you for this chicken and kale salad.


    Without further ado, here it is:

    Greek Chicken and Kale Salad Recipe


    One lazy Sunday + a hungry couple + a vehicle + a few bucks


    1.  Drive to Whole Foods

    2.  Add the Greek chicken and kale salad to cart

    3.  Drive home and devour

    I would highly recommend it.  I plan on adding this to my recipe book.

  • Kitchen Table Refinishing Project

    Date: 2010.12.01 | Category: home improvement | Response: View Comments

    Hi guys!

    How are we all feeling after the Thanksgiving holiday?  I came home refreshed and ready to tackle another big project.  This week, I’ve been tackling the kitchen table refinishing project.

    This is how our kitchen looks right now:


    It’s pretty small, and as you can see one of the chairs does not match.  The next problem is that it’s a little low, and exactly eye-level for Ada, which means our food is in a prime location for canine covert operations.  We really prefer bar-height to this height.

    A couple of weeks ago, Mark and I bought a fairly cheap dining set.  Neither of us wanted to go all out and get something really nice because the timing just isn’t right for an all-out investment.  So we got the next best thing: a cheap dining set from Garden Ridge (that we affectionately sometimes refer to as the "crap store" – there is some good stuff there, but definitely a lot of crap).  The dining set we got was a dark wood, and it doesn’t match our kitchen.  So I decided to refinish and paint it, Younghouselove-style.

    The tutorial on how to paint furniture was exactly what I needed.  So far I have followed the tutorial instructions to a T.  On Monday night, I spent about 2 hours sanding the surface of the dining set.  I HATE SANDING.  It makes my teeth hurt just imagining the noise of sandpaper against smooth finished wood.  But I wanted this to turn out just right so I dutifully followed their instructions.


    (This picture shows the sanded table with the start of the primer job)

    Last night I bought supplies: oil-based primer, semi-gloss latex paint, and Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic Protective Finish (just as they recommended).  I then spent the next 5 hours priming and painting the dining set.  Fun. 

    I worked a little late tonight, so I got a second coat of white paint on, and this is what I’m looking at now:


    (It’s still wet so that’s why you can see the unevenness)

    I have another coat of paint to go, plus the protective finish, and I just noticed that they recommended to apply 2 coats of the finish.  Sad face.  Just an observation: the peeps at Younghouselove are awfully patient.  In addition to all these coats of paint, they even recommend waiting 48 hours before using the furniture.

    I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it that long, but I do want my project to turn out like theirs did.  So I’ll try to hold out.  Two things are for sure: my before and after pictures will be up soon, and the next few days are going to be spent in the basement with a paint brush in my hand. 

    After that, I promise to revert to talking about food and fitness.  For a little while.

  • Scary Spice

    Date: 2010.11.08 | Category: home improvement | Response: View Comments

    Man, Monday hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am saddled with a cold/allergies and I feel like I’m walking through a swamp.  I just feel heavy and tired.  Tonight I’m just going to relax and rest and hope it does me good!

    Yesterday I played with Mark’s camera a bit.  Here is Ada sniffing the wind:


    For dinner yesterday I completed Meal Five of Week Four of the Four Week Recipe plan from Real Simple: Yes, folks, the cookthrough is OVA.

    It went out with a bang.  On the menu?: Cajun Chicken and Collard Greens.  For some reason this recipe made me start talking with a draaaawwwl.  A Suth’n drawl.

    I’ve never eaten or cooked collard greens, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had black-eyed peas either.  (Resist the urge to start singing My Humps.  My husband did not.)  Luckily, 24 hours before I had to cook this meal, I watched Paula Deen herself prepare colluhd greeens, y’all.  Here is how she explains it:

    Wash the collard greens thoroughly.  Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in your left hand and stripping the leaf down with your right hand.  The tender young leaves in the heart of the collards don’t need to be stripped.  Stack 6 to 8 leaves on top of one another, roll up, and slice into 1/2 to 1-ince thick slices.

    Did I go to the right source or what?  Lady knows what she’s doing!

    Here’s how it turned out


    Another tip for this simple recipe was the chicken called for blackening or cajun seasoning.  Don’t run out and get this (as you know I have a ton of seasonings as it is – more on that later).  You can make it yourself by combining paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, pepper and salt.  Here is a link with measurements, but honestly I don’t think that is necessary – just estimate it.


    And with that, the Real Simple cookthrough is done!

    Fortunately, this means:

    • Less spices to buy
    • Not trying recipes that I don’t want to cook but feel like I have to
    • Less pressure to cook – PB&J and grilled cheese, here we come

    Unfortunately, it means:

    • More PB&J and grilled cheese
    • I have to come up with my own meal plans (and I hate meal planning)
    • I won’t be forced out of my comfort zone
    • Having to come up with stuff to blog about on my own!

    This weekend, I rectified my spice situation.  Unfortunately, I deleted my “before” pictures!  Basically, I had one spice rack by the stove, and more than double the number of spices in the pantry.  It was out of control.  I decided to consolidate it all and install a spice rack on the back of our pantry door, clearing up some counter and pantry space at the same time.  Here is the result:


    The kitchen is really clean and more functional now, and just makes me want to go in there and cook up a storm.  Why didn’t I do this before the cookthrough??!  Who knows.

  • Friends, Acquaintances, Strangers

    Date: 2010.09.21 | Category: miscellaneous | Response: View Comments


    Dinner began with this juicy butternut squash.  It was pretty huge, which ended up being a problem.  I roasted the squash with a few shallots.  Later, I cooked )a ton of) whole wheat spaghetti and threw in some chopped kale.  I then made a few mistakes…  I tossed the spaghetti and kale with crushed garlic and smart balance butter and seasonings and the spaghetti started breaking up – a lot.  Then I tossed in chopped butternut, and the spaghetti really started breaking apart.  It was not pretty.

    I added some mozzarella and it tasted fine.  Just not good enough to take a picture of.  It’s a good thing it tasted alright because we have a ton of leftovers – which was actually the intention.  I’m trying to reduce my grocery bill so I’m hoping I can avoid the grocery store until the weekend.  What are your strategies in reducing your grocery bill?  Feel free to share!

    Last night I wasn’t happy about not running this weekend so I ran 9 miles on the treadmill.  I also signed up for a 5k this weekend called “Ambulance Chase”.  Too perfect, right?  I thought a short race might pick up my spirits when it comes to running and I think I can go with my dog, Ada.

    Tonight I also read a couple of magazines and came across a piece in the St. Louis Magazine on the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization which is apparently based in St. Louis.  One of the strategies to reduce hoarding was the game “Friends, Acquaintances, Strangers.”  If you have a collection of things – shoes, books, games – decide which are your friends, which are your strangers, and then the rest are acquaintances.  It’s kind of the strategy I used this weekend when going through my clothes.  Obviously, get rid of your “strangers” and think about whether any “acquaintances” should be “friends” or not.  It was a neat analogy I thought.

  • Bring It

    Date: 2010.09.19 | Category: miscellaneous | Response: View Comments

    Last night, Mark and I went to the mall.  We were hungry, so we stopped at California Pizza Kitchen.  I got the Pear & Gorgonzola pie.


    It was ok – Mark’s Chipotle Chicken was really good though.  While at said mall, I purchased a running skirt:

    IMG_2736 IMG_2741

    I gave it a shot today.  I didn’t like that it rode up in the back.  It also wasn’t that “light” – the shorts are kind of thick and made me feel hot.  Other than that, it was comfortable and it has a pocket on the butt.  Handy.  Speaking of running, today didn’t go well.  It was raining and thundering outside this morning, so I went on the treadmill.  I really was not feeling it once I got on.  After 2 miles, I didn’t want to go another step so I got off.  :(  I’ve been unhappy with my training for the half marathon.  I keep debating whether I should pull out.  I’m undertrained, undermotivated, and dreading the half.  My husband thinks I should just run it.  I’ve been fantasizing about not doing it.  I don’t know what I’m going to do yet.

    In happier news, I got a great salad at Sweet Tomatoes this afternoon.


    I had a few courses after this salad.  Buffets for lunch are trouble.  Well, buffets period are trouble.  Later on, I got started on my clothes project:


    Yesterday I complained that my clothes are scattered in 6 places in the house.  I went around and gathered my clothes and threw them all onto the bed.  That’s right, every article of clothing is on my bed in this picture.  From every closet, every bin in the basement, every drawer in my dresser.


    It was hard to let go of some things.  I created several keep piles according to the type of clothing, and one pile for “definitely get rid of” and “think about”.  I highly recommend the “think about” pile when you’re just not ready to let go.  On the second pass, it’s easier to make a decision.

    I found a couple of cool t-shirts:

    IMG_2748 IMG_2750

    The one on the right is a keeper (I lived in Okinawa when my dad was in the Navy and would have been 2 when we got this t-shirt… which actually belongs to my mom) and the one on the left is getting donated.  :)

    I got 2 trash bags to donate.  I even have space in some of my drawers! 

    IMG_2752 IMG_2753

    My half of the closet.  It’s not much space and this is why I have clothes all over the house.

    IMG_2755 IMG_2757

    I didn’t feel like much for dinner after the big lunch, so I just made some baby food.


    I mean, pumpkin dip.  (I didn’t use OJ, just maple syrup and brown sugar.)  Looks gross but tastes delicious! 


    I made a lot of progress on my secret projects this weekend.  That, plus the closet clean out, and I’m feeling very accomplished.  Bring it, Monday.

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My name is Michelle and I like to write about running, food, and fitness in general. Check out my About Michelle section for more!




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