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Cooking at Star Hill- Top Three Meals I Cook

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I do not like to cook on the city. I am always tired after work and it is hard to get excited about messing up my kitchen for two. At Star Hill I usually cook for several, I have (take) the time to cook real meals. I do have some stand-by meals that I like to cook when in the country.  I like them because they are crowd pleasers.  What can I say?  I like for people to like my food.  I do health food all week at home so the calories come out to play on the weekends. When it comes to cooking I do not have an original idea.  I use cookbooks and watch other people cook ( in real life and on t.v.).

Here are my top three things to cook

  • Christmas Morning Breakfast-  We named this because… it was something that I whipped up during the night while watching Santa assemble presents back in the day.  I could have it in the fridge and ready to go for the morning chaos.  Of course the recipe came out of crescent roll add in a magazine years ago. It is out there on the web with a million names.
  • Fajitas with Green Rice and Pinto Beans- This is my throw-down, have ready for a crowd meal.  Lots can be made in advance and Hubby has to participate.
  • Woody’s Hamburgers with baked beans, chips and Fruit Cobbler- Apple, Peach, Blueberry or Married Son’s favorite; Blackberry.  I do love a good cobbler.  Did you notice that beside the cobbler in this meal, there is not much I have to do?

This week I am going to write out the Christmas Morning Breakfast: ( I have friends who hate recipe blogs.  They are going to be mad enough that I am writing one … I hope they don’t unfriend me for writing  three over the next three weeks.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can crescent rolls
  • 8 to 10 eggs
  • 1/4 cup or less milk
  • 1/4 cup of picante sauce ( hot as you like it)
  • Cheddar Cheese- about a cup of grated cheese
  • 1 roll of sausage like Jimmy Dean’s

Brown the sausage crumbled. In a 9X13 sprayed with Pam pan press out the crescent rolls until the cover the bottom of the pan and go up the sides a little.  Sprinkle the browned sausage on top of the crescent rolls.  Scramble the eggs with a little milk.  Once they are scrambled, pour them over the top of the sausage.  Sprinkle the picante sauce over the top of the eggs evenly.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top of everything.  Use it all.  You can cover the whole thing at this point and stick it in the fridge overnight, or cook it right away.  If you leave it in the fridge over night, take it out first thing in the morning and set it on the counter for a few minutes to warm.  I broke a dish once going straight to the hot oven,
This needs to cook slow so the eggs set up.  I usually start it at about 325for about 25 minutes then move it to 300 and cover with foil until everything is set up and solid.  Cut into squares and leave fore guests to serve themselves,  This is Yummo- and EASY.

It works so well at Star Hill because I can have it ready to go when we have guests along with cut up fruit, muffins from a mix, and juice and I am done.  No slaving over breakfast.

Confessions of a Bad Photographer

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True confession time.  I take terrible pictures.  If you have been following my blog you already know that I am not the best photographer. I really wish I were a better “picture taker”. I know what good photography looks like or more importantly, how I feel when I look at good work. I would recommend a young photographer, named Chance if you want to see the area I live in through artistic eyes. He makes east Texas look like a little slice of heaven. This kid is good and he is 20 years old! He posts his work on a Facebook page- Photos by Chance. He has a great camera now, but some of his amazing pictures were taken with his phone so equipment can’t be my excuse. I recommend the Lost Lake pictures.  I have been looking at some photo editing apps for my Ipad.  I don’t take many pictures with the Ipad because it is a pain to get them into the blog, but I figure if I am going to keep blogging, I better make what I do look as good as possible. Here are a few photos I snagged from Facebook today while waiting for my dad to get out of surgery.  ( He is fine!) I have included before and after shots using the Ipad Apps.  They are still not amazing pictures, but the cleaned up versions look a little better.


Before- There is too much clutter.

 
Now the focus is on The Southern Belle and Maeby.
 
 She is too cute for a before picture to look bad, so it is just the after photo.
 
 
The ugly breaker box and satellite dish doesn’t look too bad when the focus is on the azaleas.
 
 
 
Once again, I tried to make the picture more about the main thing and less about the background.
 

 
 
I still want a new camera, but I will work on having better photos in the blog. Thank you for reading. I appreciate hearing that you read what I write and like it.

Fancying Up a Subway Art Sign

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I found this sign at Walmart.  It was $11.00 or so.  I loved what it said and the price was right.  It just looked a little plain to me. While trying to figure out what to do to the sign it has been sitting on my craft bench.

 I got Hubby to cut two pieces of our reclaimed wood to length.  He used his super math skills to make the wood the same all the way around, like a frame. 

 I painted red right over the brown paint on it and then sanded the edges to allow the wood grain and brown to show through. I think it looks better.

Making Pumpkins from Scrap Wood

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I worked on this today at the hospital. My dad is getting ready for surgery tomorrow.

This was a move slow, do not start anything complicated weekend.  We did have some scrap wood laying around though and I thought that they might make some pumpkins for the farmhouse table.  It took me all of 15 minutes to cut the wood into various lengths.

I looked at them and decided that they needed a little rounding.  I tried cutting the edges with the chop saw, but I really didn’t like it.  I ended up getting out another of Hubby’s tools.  The belt sander.

This thing scares me, but less than sanding each of the blocks by hand would. I did it all by myself!

I sanded the edges of each block then got out some left over paint. 

I got Hubby to drill a hole in the top of each block then I found sticks to put in the hole and wood glued them together.  The sticks look something like a stem.  I also had some twine covered wire from the country wedding that I twisted into corkscrew shapes and glued to the block.  I had some left over burlap from the wreath project that became leaves. 

I think it turned out great.  Hubby said they looked like blocks with sticks in the top.  Let me know what you think.

 I used dark glaze on some.  I left in on a while so that it would soak in and look rustic.

 I painted this one coral then the cinnamon glaze color then sanded  lightly to let the coral show through.

I love that you can see the hill in the background of this shot. 
I think they look great on the farmhouse table.

Building Codes?

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We really do have building codes in San Jacinto County. We applied for a building permit when we built the Garagemahal. Driving in to Star Hill I saw the most amazing site on highway 156, and by amazing I mean that I was amazed someone would consider doing this, and more amazed that someone hasn’t stopped the progress. I just have to wonder at the conversation that took place before construction began. “I really like my 10 year old portable building. I hope that somehow we can make it a part of the brand new house we are building.” “No problem. We will use the portable building as one of the walls.” “Great idea!”
There is no other explanation. Hubby says that it probably saved $50.00 in wood to do this.

Making a Burlap Wreath- Easy DIY

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This weekend was all about taking it slow.  I did not move to fast or do very much but I did get a few easy to do projects completed.  One of the easiest things I have done this fall is make a wreath out of an old coffee sack.  I have several of these that I got free when we were in Round Top.  Long story- but my dumpster diving does pay off.

I am posting twice this evening because I will be out of pocket the next few days. 

I totally copied the idea from one of the blogs I follow: Classy Clutter.

I am going to change out the elements of the wreath this fall so what you are going to see is the Plain Jane version.

Step one:
Untwist a metal hangar like you are roasting marshmallows.

Step two: cut burlap into about two inch strips.

Step three:
Sting the burlap onto the wire. Keep stinging it on until you can’t put any more on.  It took almost the entire coffee sack to get it as full as I wanted.

Step four:
Form the straight wire into a circle and re-twist the top. I left the hook part of the hanger in place when I straighted the wire.  It made a great wreath hanger.

Step five:
Decorate like you would any wreath.  I added a denim ribbon to mine and will be adding fall elements next time I am at Star Hill.

Milk Glass Lamp

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As I have been assembling the supplies for my bedroom make the city house, I ran across a milk glass lamp.  I paid $5.00 for the lamp, shade and all.  It wasn’t in great shape but It will provide me with an opportunity to bring in my milk glass. 

I just wasn’t crazy about the finish on the wood and the faux metal parts were super scratched and tarnished.  The bedroom is going to be gray, yellow, white and black.  I know that the bedside lamp is going to be yellow, so I decided to paint the wood gray and the “metal” (plastic) black. 

Sanded and ready for paint.

Lamps are not complicated.  They are all made from a metal rod with electrical wire running through them connected to a socket.  Any lamp can be taken apart and put back together.  My advice is to take pictures as you go so you can reassemble.  Above you an see all the parts from this lamp.

I really like the gray color. It came from the Garagemahal.  I

I wanted to make the lampshade colorful.  I purchased 1 yard of fabric for $6.00 at Hancock’s Fabric. I took the pleated part of the shade that came with the lamp  off.  There was a smooth plastic shade under the pleating. 

I looked up how to cover a lampshade with fabric.  There were several sites. 
 Here is one of the easiest to follow videos.
I followed the directions exactly as stated.  I drew out the pattern on some gift wrap then cut that out and put the pattern on the fabric.  after I cut out the fabric I sprayed everything with spray adhesive.  Hubby helped hold the lampshade while I smoothed out the fabric.  I touched everything up with hot glue.

I was proud of how it turned out!  I also bought the fabric for the headboard.  $5.00 a yard for  2 1/2 yards of fabric.  $7.50 for a new headboard is not too bad.  I look forward to getting it together.


Weekend Home Checklist

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I hope that we have inspired at least one or two of you to consider getting a weekend home.  We have loved our home for the last 6 years.  We are going through a bit of work right now, but even if we knew that we would have to work on the home, we would do it again.  I started thinking about what a person needs to move in to a weekend home.  If you are like my family, we have been collecting things for years at our current home.  It has been a long time since we were college students and moved into a home with almost nothing. 

I found this list and it fits for your weekend home too:
Moving into your first apartment.

My advice to anyone considering a weekend home-

  • Keep it simple.  Nothing fussy or hard to clean.  The drapes and bedding are machine washable.  Everything is easy to wipe down, clean up and put away.  Complicated things get the boot at Star Hill. 
  • Keep things you like at your home but not things you love.  The reality is that you will spend more time at your city home than your weekend home. I keep clothes that are okay but not great up there.  I hate to pack so we keep clothes in our closet.  I may bring a church outfit or something special, but 90% of the clothes I wear in the country stays up there.  I have tennis shoes, sandals, and flip flops that never come to the city.
  • Keep in touch with your neighbors, especially the full time ones.  We know our neighbors.  They are great people and they watch our house for us.  They have even discovered we left a door unlocked once and called us.  They also keep us up to date on what is going on in the neighborhood.
  • Keep your supplies up to date.  I keep a shopping list and check for things like toilet paper, paper plates, sugar, flour, foil, nonstick spray, spices, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, trash bags, cleaning supplies, salt and pepper before we leave.  I also have shelf stable canned goods and almond milk at the house.  In the freezer we keep bread, veggies and meat.  It is 20 minutes one way to a really small grocery store that is pretty expensive.  Do I really want to spend my weekend shopping?  I buy the stuff before we leave the city right along with my weekly groceries for home.

Get a programmable thermostat.  Set it so that the air comes on before you get there each week.  Even if you don’t make it that week, it is good for the house to have air on regularly. 

Write out the instructions for your home.  We have friends who have used our house when we were not there.  We leave instructions on turning on the hot water heater, where the supplies are, and how to shut the house down before leaving.

Buy extra stuff off season.  I have a supply of swim shoes in a variety of sizes, t shirts, toothbrushes, combs, beach towels, sunglasses, and sunscreen.  I want the friends and family who come to be able to enjoy their visit even if they forgot stuff.  I buy it when it is on clearance and keep it in a basket in the linen closet.

Plan fun into every weekend. 

Have a routine to open and close the house each week.  We can shut the house down in 30 minutes if we are running late and that includes cleaning, turning off the water, taking out the trash and packing. 

Enjoy your home.

Making a Work Table

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Right now most of my big projects are done on a glass topped patio table. You can see the glass in the picture above from the wood I just varnished. It is a minor miracle that I haven’t shattered the glass on this table top with my projects. Recently my dad gave me the base to an old restaurant table. The base will be perfect because it will move out of the way easily and will be tough enough to stand up to the abuse it is going to take. A tablecloth will cover it when we use it for eating at the garagemahal.  It looked really rusted but it turned out to be surface rust that did not damage the integrity of the metal. I scrubbed everything with a steel brush to get any loose rust and paint off.  My dad thought I needed to get it powder coated.  Sorry Dad but powder coating is EXPENSIVE.  I knew there had to be a better solution.

 . I found some great Rustoleum paint to cover the rust.

This stuff is  magical.  Seriously. It turns the rust places into metal instantly.  The rust spots even feel different after you spray the paint on. Not bad for less than $5.00.

 This is where the rusty spot was before.

 Cast iron base adds weight to the table.

It has a cast iron top plate on top that the wood will be screwed through.

Hubby assembled the top for the table from plywood scraps in the Garagemahal.  The first piece is smaller than the actual top.  After everything was painted on both sides he screwed the two pieces together and attached the table top to the smaller piece of wood.

 I painted everything the same gray color as the cabinets of the Garagemahal.

Now I have a table that can be used inside the garage and out.  It will stand up to the weather and hopefully to my mistreatment.  My dad is getting a matching top for his table base too.

My Cheapo Ways

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Eight years ago I was starting my second year as science specialist for our district.  I had spent my first year in the job convincing teachers that they could teach hands-on science, providing lessons, creating worksheets and handouts, making PowerPoints for the teachers to use.  It was the back to school staff development day for our district.  There were over 100 teachers in the cafeteria of one of our elementary schools. I asked the audience “What do you know about me?” I expected answers like you will help us… silly me.  From the back someone yelled out “You are cheap!” I laughed so hard I almost fell of the stage.  During the past year I had also looked for inexpensive ways to teach the science concepts.  I was that teacher that took in baby food jars, left over yarn, shoe boxes, coffee cans, etc.  My cabinets were jammed with things that could be used to teach the concepts but not cost money.  Let me be clear, I am NOT cheap!  I am frugal.  I have no problem spending money as long as it is something I REALLY want and it is on sale.

I hate to spend more money than necessary on things. My mom taught me well.  She is the ultimate reduce, reuse, recycle queen.  She washes out zip lock bags and reuses them.  I drive a fully paid for 6 1/2 year old car.  You have seen how I decorate my home.  I have several great suits from Goodwill and other resale shops.  I never pay full price unless that is the only option.

Last week I posted that I wanted to redecorate a bedroom in our home and my friends have already started helping me out.  One of my buddies called to let me know that there was yellow paint at Home Depot in the OOPS bin. ( the good Behr paint with primer- in a soft yellow color.)

 My social planner, Tanis, has gone to a garage sale with me, and one of my teachers brought me a Hancock’s fabric coupon.

So far I have collected

  •  two side tables- one free, one fifteen dollars

My fifteen dollar find.  Solid wood with lots of detail.
 
 My Free Find

  • a bookcase- free (legs for the bookcase from the Habitat sale 2.50)
  • A mirror- 2.00
  • Yellow Behr Paint with prime- 15.00
  • A huge valance that will be part of the headboard- free
  • A milk glass lamp- 5.00 ( I am already redoing this.  You will see it soon.)
  • A comforter and shams- 17.00

41.50 spent so far

    I am on the lookout for gray or yellow and gray curtains, fabric for the headboard, throw pillows, and some white bedding.  I am not afraid to think outside the box.  Ideas are welcome.

    If you have a lead on this stuff- I am all ears.

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