Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fake 'Em Out Pancakes

I'm a creature of habit.  Especially in the morning.  Aren't we all?  Morning routines are normally that one thing we stick to, no matter what the rest of the day holds, because we all have to wake up and get ready for our day.  My morning routine has been roughly the same for the past eight years.  Wake up, shower, get dressed, pack my lunch, and grab a granola bar on the way out the door.  Eat said granola bar in the darkness on my way to work, and throw the wrapper on the passenger side floor of the car, because really, who's looking to aim into a garbage bag while going 80 down the freeway?

Disclaimer:  I wish I had a picture of those wrappers, because I would let them build up into a mound covering the floor, only removing them on the rare occasions that Dave would be a passenger in my car and start calling me a hoarder.  It really was the mini-version of the show Hoarders.  Don't judge.  We all have our things.

A few months ago, however, I started working from home, and my morning routine was thrown for a tailspin.  No longer did I have to get dressed in the morning if I didn't feel like it.  No longer did I have to rush out in the early morning hours to open the doors for the early bird bus riding school kids.  No longer did I have to eat a damn granola bar for breakfast!!

I started making myself a warm breakfast that filled my belly and my soul until lunchtime.  Having a good breakfast really does make a difference in your morning.  So does a job you enjoy.  Either way, my morning routine is a much happier one these days.  

Let me stop chattering and share my breakfast with you.  I call it the Fake 'Em Out Pancake.  Why?  Because it's not actually a pancake, and I don't put syrup on it.  But it kind of looks like a pancake, so we're going with it.

Yeah, that's homemade PB in the red jar.  It takes less than
10 minutes to make!!

Here's what you'll need:

1 egg
1 small banana
1 spoonful of peanut butter
Coconut oil for the pan if you're so inclined.
(serves 1)

That's it!

First, you'll peel the banana and throw it and a spoonful of peanut butter into your bowl.  Mash it up with a fork.  Sometimes, if I'm feeling crazy, I'll use Nutella instead of peanut butter.  Yum!!

M.A.S.H.  What a great show, no?

Next, crack your egg, and mix that in with the banana/PB.  

Solid gold.

Heat up your pan under medium high heat, throw a tad bit of coconut oil in if it's not a no-stick pan, and pour in your batter.  Cook it up much like you would a pancake, flip, and cook the other side.

I mean it.  Just a little bit of coconut oil.

Can you tell my stove isn't quite level?

Flip it!  Jut don't be a flip-flopper.  That's not necessary.

You're done!  I suppose you could use syrup if you really wanted to, but with the banana and peanut butter, your Fake 'Em Out Pancake will be sweet enough. 

Bonus!  All my gluten free peeps can chow down on these, too!  (I don't know about you Paleo people, though.  I'm not wise in the world of Paleo.  Would a caveman eat this?  I think he'd probably grunt and go make a fire.)

Happy breakfasting!!

Taking a quote from my dear friend Jeno, "HARF."

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day for a Dollar!

I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day.  Never have been.  Here's what I compare it to:  Have you ever seen a movie trailer that looks spectacular, so much so that you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT WAIT to see it?  You read the articles about it, you watch the online clips, you bug your friends to go with you opening night.  The anticipation is palpable.  Then, the moment happens.  You sit back, ready to soak in the best movie you've ever seen, and...Hmph.  It falls flat.  It wasn't bad, there wasn't really anything to complain about, but it just wasn't what you'd built up in your mind. 

That's the way I feel about Valentine's Day (and romantic movies- aren't they the best/worst?!).  I'm not bitter, and it's not for a lack of a loving partner.  I have a perfectly wonderful husband who loves to take me out to dinner, puts the toilet seat down without ever being asked, and likes to do laundry.  Now THAT'S romance.  Plus, we've got an anniversary that rolls around every year that isn't being celebrated at the same time as every other googly-eyed couple in America.  I'd rather be wined and dined then.  In addition to that, reds and pinks are my least favorite colors.  Pretty sure that alone is reason enough to forgo the holiday.

But then....kiddos that you love start to get older that get excited for holidays.  Therefore, it becomes fun to do something for Valentine's Day again.  Behold, this year's Valentine's DIY Project that can be done for a DOLLAR and a half hour of your time- The Loooooooove Picture Puzzle:

My two favorite kids!
I actually pinned this project from another blogger, and I'd hate to take full credit for someone else's project, so please visit her site (and much prettier pictures) here.  She made little fabric drawstring bags to go along with this project, but if you don't sew, want to be cheap, and want to take very little time to make a thoughtful gift, stick with me.  We're going no frills here.

Supply List:
Popsicle Sticks (package of 100 from the Dollar Store!)
Inkjet or Toner Printer
Modge Podge or other craft glue
Small paintbrush
Sharp knife or craft knifeblade
Ziplock bag
Red Sharpie

Most people probably have the majority of these supplies in their house, which is why this is the dollar project- the only thing I needed was popsicle sticks!

First things first:  Find and print pictures that you'd like to make into puzzles.  Print them on regular printer paper on your home printer.  Make sure the pictures are slightly smaller than the width of your popsicle sticks.  My popsicle sticks were just over 4 inches, so I made sure my pictures were only 4 inches when I printed them out.

This is going to be fun.

Side note- I printed in B/W because my printer doesn't have color.  You can do color if you'd like.

After printing, paint the back of your picture with Modge Podge.  Arrange popsicle sticks on the picture, leaving a tiny gap between each stick.  Let them dry.

So easy, a 5 year old could do it.  Seriously.  We're not breaking the bank on
dexterity capabilities here.

When they're dry, write out a nice little message to your gift recipient on the back of the sticks.  Then, use your knife to score a line between each stick to separate them.

Anybody ever visit the Human Body exhibit that traveled around the country?
I feel like the body they sliced into hundreds of pieces and stretched out for 30 feet.

Once separated, coat each individual stick with another coat of Modge Podge.

Got smart for this round.  Glue sticks to paper towels.  Duh.

While you're waiting for that to dry, get your ziplock bag and your red Sharpie, and decorate the bag.

When everything's dry, pop the sticks into the bags, and send to your favorite Valentine.

Happy Valentine's Day, kids!

Quick, cheap, and easy!  And your littlest Valentines will love you for it!  (And then probably use the popsicle sticks to stab each other.  Ehh, that's their mom's problem;)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Crack Kills.

When Dave is traveling for work, I usually attempt to check off something on my DIY list that is on the messier side of things.  It's so much easier to get a quick and messy project done when I don't have to worry about anyone else tripping over my tools or asking, "So, when do you think you're going to be done with this?"  And by "anyone else", I really just mean my husband.  Margot steers clear when she hears another DIY project getting started. 

This week, I decided to tackle one such project, thinking it would take me an hour, tops.  HA.  I don't know where my eternal optimism and underestimating project completion times comes from, but it's like my brain gets erased every time I start something new.  That's probably a good thing, though, otherwise I'd never start another project again.

So, this week's project?  Recaulking the crack between the kitchen countertop and wall.  Ugh.  Gross.  Shoot me now.  If ever there were a mundane project to end all projects, this would be it.  There isn't a beautiful finished product to look at when you're done, you aren't going to proudly show off your DIY skills, and you're really not going to get any pleasure out of it.  It's just straight up maintenance.  But, it must be done.

I'm embarrassed to be broadcasting this to the Internet. 

The only alternative is to just rip out the kitchen and get a brank spanking new one, but alas.  I keep choosing fun vacations over a new kitchen.  Priorities, people.  Now, let's get started.

This is what the countertop/sink area looks like.  White on white, my friends.  White formica countertops paired with a white plastic backsplash.  Classy, I know. 

I hide these corners with coffee makers and such.  How gross!!

Eons ago, the previous owners must have caulked the edges of this beautiful eye candy in the laziest way possible.  The caulk was just smeared in a thin layer, which had seriously yellowed with age.  Also, I'm not really sure they even used caulk, as it didn't exactly come off easily.  Could have been glue- I have no idea.

I first attempted to use my scraper to begin prying out/chipping off the mess.  No dice. 

So, I cut up an old sock, drowned the pieces in Goo-Gone, and let it sit on the cracks for a few minutes.  This method had greater success.  The glue/caulk became sticky and stringy, and I was then able to use the scraper to begin cleaning it out.  Most areas required two to three rounds of soaking in Goo-Gone, scraping, cleaning, and then repeating the process all over again.  What I thought would be an hour project quickly stretched through and beyond dinner time.  Grr. 

Getting a wet sock to stand up in a corner?  Serious talent right here, folks.
(Thinking about the hair scene in There's Something About Mary?  Yeah, me too.)

Not sure if you can see from these pictures, but scraping white formica countertops with a metal scraper leaves behind grayish marks.  Yikes.  Magic Erasers to the rescue!!  Seriously, those things are really magic.  One swipe, and the marks are gone!  My love for this product knows no bounds. 

My insides are shriveling.  How have I ignored this for so long?

I tried to get as much of the gunk off as possible before re-caulking- I didn't want any of the gross yellowish stuff peeking through.  This meant that my new caulk lines were going to be a bit wider than normal, as the old stuff had slightly stained the formica in some spots.  Oh well.  This kitchen is 65 years old- it's not going to be sparkly and perfect.

Looking marginally better.

Once I got as much of the old caulk/glue off as humanly possible, I got out the painter's tape to begin taping off my new caulk lines.  It's important to be as precise as possible with this step- try not to make wavy or uneven tape lines!

I am a taping MASTER.

After taping everything off, I crossed my fingers that the half used tube of caulk that I had sitting in the basement hadn't completely dried out.  Sometimes prayers are answered, folks.  The caulk was still useable, and the tube ran out just as I filled in the last line.  The DIY gods must have been watching out for me this week.

While the caulk was still wet, I used a small plastic scraper from Pampered Chef to smooth it out.  You can buy similar little tools at Lowes, but when you already have something in your kitchen drawer that works the same way, why bother?  These little plastic squares have several rounded edges of various sizes, so you can create a large or small caulk line, depending on the size of your cracks to fill.  (Insert crack joke here.)

Crack scraping at its finest.

Immediately after smoothing out the caulk, I carefully took off the tape.  This created a few irregular marks in the corners, but those were easily fixable.  I had a small bowl of warm water ready, got my index finger wet, and smoothed out the bumps.  Easy peazy.

Well into the darkness hours before I got to this point, can you tell?

The hardest part?  NOT TOUCHING it to see if it was dry.  I'm such a child.

Ohh fancy!  Those graphic colors really detract from the sub-par-ness that is the rest of my kitchen.
Don't they?  Unless you're willing to buy me a new kitchen, just say yes.

Oh wait, you want to see the rest of my kitchen?  I'll make you a deal:  create a Kickstarter campaign for me to renovate this room and I'll show it to you in all its glorious/hideous light.  

Disclaimer:  Don't do this- I have no idea how Kickstarter actually works, and my luck, I'd end up getting the pants sued off of me for improper use of money or some foolishness like that.  I don't need the IRS after me:)