May 31, 2011

Mosquito's Got You Itching With Rage?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Mosquito Magnet for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Yup, me too.  As an avid gardener (can I be avid if it has really just been 1.5 seasons since ! started?) I am out in the yard for hours on end.  In Chicago that means humid weather and Volkswagen size mosquitos.  Since it is so hot and so humid your skin is always sticky and sweaty which attracts mosquitos like sweet nectar to the bees.  These itch causing little buggers tend to swarm and attack in droves causing you to swat endlessly and leaving you with masses of itchy swollen welts.  The annoyance tends to be overbearing.

Last year, once our organic veggie garden was in full bloom, we heard that if you gardened in the morning the mosquitos wouldn't be out and we could get more done.  No dice.  We tried each morning for a week and still they managed to get us...each of us counting the new bites and cursing our new nemesis.  After a week we could no longer deal with the constant threat of malaria each time we went to pick a veggie or two.  We bought some natural bug repellant and...wait for it...still no dice.  What's a girl to do??

Mosquito Magnet Executive Mosquito Trap and Accessories

Yup, that's right.  How about a little Mosquito Magnet action to get the skeeters off my back and magically directed someplace else.  Ok - it isn't magic so much as patented technology that lures, captures then controls said skeeters...

 

Pretty neat, huh?  I haven't been able to convince the hubs of this purchase quite yet...at a price tag of $789 it isn't exactly in our frugal budget, however my neighbor told me that her Aunt (a super avid gardener with a giant greenhouse and everything!) indeed has this very same product!!  After years of doing the same swatting and dodging that we have she has tried just about every product on the market and this one is still her fav!!  I don't know about you but that is endorsement enough for me!!  time to start saving the pennies which will eventually save our gardening bods from mosquito bites and malaria!  :)

FYI - After this glowing endorsement for Mosquito Magnet are you ready to pull the trigger?  If you purchase by June 1 you will receive a FREE 18 month warranty...ya'll know I love me some FREE!  :)

What are your favorite summer evening things to do?  Have mosquitos interrupted your fun?  Have you ever tried a product like this to keep them at bay?  Please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite summer time activities!!  I can't wait for late night evenings on the back patio listening to crickets and watching fireflies light up the yard...oh, and hopefully we will be Mosquito free by then with help of the Mosquito Magnet!  :)

Bianca

Visit Sponsor's Site

May 30, 2011

Room for 2 - Guest Room Revisited + Metal Bed Frame Tips

Well, it didn't take long for us to upgrade the newly redone guest room!  When did I last blog about this "finished" project...2 months ago?  Turns out it wasn't as finished as I had hoped, but no worries, we upgraded for FREE!!  HERE is how we left off last month...



My neighbor, Mandy, is less than four weeks from her due date with little "Sprout".  In her crazy nesting state she wants things done and she wants them done NOW...lucky for her she has a hubs that can work a full time job AND get the work done at home!  Kevin is currently in the middle of gutting and rebuilding the kitchen, pulling up the flooring in the living room to sand and stain the wood floors beneath it, and ripping the paneling off the living room wall which then had to be repainted (don't worry - I am following their progress and will post on it all later).  The last item on the To Do list - the nursery!  Enter our newest freebie...their guest-room-soon-to-be-nursery's full size bed!


Yes, that's right.  We have now upgraded from a twin to a full size bed in our guest room.  Mandy offered the bed to me a few minutes after she listed it on Craigslist.  I jumped at the offer and now here it sits - all 54 inches wide and 75 inches long of it!  That is a 15 inch difference in width from the twin which previously occupied the space. 15 extra inches makes a ton of difference in the long run when guests come to stay.  Before the full size they had the option of the twin in the guest room, the twin in my office, or the couch in the basement...all pretty unappealing to a couple.  Though a full size bed isn't exactly luxurious in comparison to a queen or king, at least the prospect is better than the twins in separate rooms...there is definitely room for 2 now.  The best part was the price tag...FREE!!  Booyah!!

Of course, when I stripped the old twin and moved it from the wall I was bummed to see a nice 4 inch long gash in the freshly pained wall.  Nothing like putting a little hitch in my giddy up...


These things happen...but they don't have to!  How bout a quick tip for metal frames?   An easy fix for this little problemo is to take some duct tape and wrap the edges of your frame...like so...





Yeah, it isn't exactly pretty but it works.  Now when it rubs on the wall you won't have a single mark left behind!  I am hoping you will be thoughtful enough to have a bed skirt or some sort of contraption so these babies don't show...nobody likes to see an old metal bed frame especially when it is rigged with duct tape!  Talk about a major bed room faux pas!  Oh, and since we are keeping it cheap in the guest room we are sticking with the metal frame for now but, don't worry, Ill work out some type of headboard in no time at all.  In the meantime this array of pillows balances out the fact that there is no headboard...or art work for that matter!!

With a small bedroom there is another issue that can come up frequently...storage.  Enter these mighty little suckers...

via
Yup, Mandy also gave me her set of risers so I could have some extra storage underneath our new guest bed...BONUS!!  You know I am a sucker for storage - especially when the room comes with one tiny piddly closet.

Last time I showed off this room I spared you the instant anxiety that would have been caused by seeing the insides of the drawers of that their little dresser.  At the time they were FULL of random crap...yes, the same gypsy pack of crap seen HERE and HERE and, for good measure, HERE!  Yesterday I emptied each and every little thing out of them so they are sitting empty and ready for use!   I cant wait to paint said dresser but that will come in good time.

I dare not show you the looks of my office right now but I will show you the freshly cleaned out dresser...


Don't mind the hair dryer in that one drawer...With a full size mirror this room has become my go to place when we are scrambling through our morning rituals and the bathroom gets tight on elbow room.


While I was at it, I also emptied out the closet except my mother-in-laws clothes and knitting supplies for when she comes to visit from Bosnia...she is going to LOVE the new bed!!   



OK - it isn't entirely MY mother-in-laws space - I may have snuck my shoe rack on the back of the door.  I can only stack so many shoes in our bedroom closet so the overflow now goes here.  Speaking of shoes - did you see my fabulously FREE shoe storage idea?  You best pop over and check it out HERE...genius if I do say so myself!

Little steps are helping to make this house a home...I especially like the little FREE steps that help!  Thanks again to Mandy for being a fabulous neighbor and giving my next guests a proper place to lay their weary heads!!  :)

Bianca Difference in a full size bed and twin, bed risers, cleaning out the junk, guest room organization, how to get ready for guests, Full size vs twin

 Linking up to the following:

May 27, 2011

Foodie Friday #10 - Travelling The Globe



Foodie Friday has been up and running for 10 weeks now...I can't believe how fast time goes by...especially when you are drooling over delicious looking recipes! :) Thanks to everyone who linked up last week!!

This week I was back at work flying again so I wanted to make sure I shared a little bit of what my life looks like on the road...more specifically and in honor of Foodie Friday, how I cook on the road.

Many of you have flown on an airplane before but you may not be well versed in the galley of a 737 plane. We have 2 galleys (one in the front one in the back) both conveniently located next to the bathrooms. There is no microwave, no oven, and no refrigerators. There is, however, a coffee machine which is where wonders never cease to amaze weary travelers as they stumble to the back for the bathroom and will find Flight Attendants whipping up a batch of something yummy for dinner...or lunch as was the case for me. For this trip, with an abundance of black bean dip at home, I decided to make "Burritos On The Fly". This recipe (and type of cooking) will also work in a hotel room where the one appliance you are often guaranteed is a small coffee maker. Here is how we do it F/A style...

1. Take your spinach tortilla and wrap it in foil...



2. Place foil wrapped tortilla on the coffee makers hot plate...


3. Add a bit of weight on the top so it gets warm faster...I like to use 2 cans of water...yes, cans of water. Side note - The air pressure tends to build up in plastic bottles often causing beverages to explode in flight...we forgo the messy cleanup by using cans...


4. Get out your black beans and give them a stir...


5. Make an easy double boiler by adding hot water from the coffee maker to a bigger plastic container and let your bean container float in there for about 10 minute stirring every few minutes. If the water starts to cool off just replace with new hot water...


5. Get your precut veggies and cheese ready for your steamy tortilla


6. Carefully unwrap steamy tortilla in case it got a bit stuck to the foil...


7. The rest is pretty self explanatory... Add Cheese, beans, and veggies and wrap it up!





8. Keep the foil wrapped around the burrito while eating to keep the heat in. Peel back and enjoy!

Oh - another side note - deciding the best place to enjoy your burrito will be hard as you will be surrounded by 137 people all peeking over your shoulder wanting to know if they could have a bite in between their trips to the above mentioned bathroom causing constant opening and closing of the door and all the smells that come with it...


Seriously? Who ever said being a Flight Attendant was glamorous??

Due to my burrito rambling I will make sure to keep this weeks features brief but tasty. Last week I featured Chillin' and Grillin' which worked perfectly for the hot weather we were having. This week, as I am back on the road flying, I thought I would reflect that in my features and Travel The Globe.

First we are starting in Italy...surprised? I have to say, growing up in an Italian household, food has always been reason to celebrate. My mom is a wonderful cook who often would make a pot of sauce (aka gravy to my paisan's) and meatballs on the weekends. I can still smell the remnants of my childhood when I walk into her house and get a whiff of that tomato and garlic goodness...unfortunately, the sauce is not vegetarian so I no longer eat it but the smell alone can make me smile. Back to the Italian feature...


Girli Chef linked up a delicious looking Stromboli this week. Bread, cheese, a variety of meats, and a great dipping sauce...how can you go wrong?? We make pizza at least 2 times a week here so this would be a nice spin to our traditional style of 'Za!


We are now heading over to China to cook up some Kung Pao Chicken from It's a Keeper. This homemade version is most likely going to be healthier than take out and custom made to your liking. Ginger is such a great flavor to work with but is often overlooked when people don't know what to do with it or how to use it. This recipe should be step one in the Newbie to Ginger handbook! :)


Speaking of ginger - let's head to India for some delicious Tarka Dhal posted last week by McGreen Experience. This vegetarian recipe is right up my alley with ginger, garlic, lentils and turmeric (another often overlooked spice) this dish is not only healthy but also super delicious.


Next stop - the Philippines! Marelie from Cookie Droplets Etc posted this Filipino Mamon which is better described as a yellow sponge cake. Marelie always posts a wonderful recipe and usually adds a bit of history from her culture and/or the food in which she has prepared. For a great recipe and a bit of foodie history make sure to pop on over and say hi!!


Let's stay put in the Philippines for another dessert delight. Pinay in Texas Cooking Corner linked up a Bibingka recipe which is an alternative spin on the traditional dish. Since I have never heard of this I thought I would explain it to you in her own words...

"Bibingka is a type of rice cake native to the Philippines. This is traditionally made from galapong (milled glutinous rice), coconut milk, margarine, and sugar. During dawn masses on Christmas season, side street vendors are a common sight preparing and selling this delicious rice cake."

Sounds good to me!!

From all this globe trotting I am certainly exhausted so that concludes the features for this week. Make sure to grab a button if you were featured!!




NOW ON WITH THE PARTY

There are no rules to this linky party except...duh duh duh done...

  • It would be super nice if you Followed LBR, your hostess with the most-est...while you're at it, leave a comment if you so desire!
  • Your link MUST be a food related item, duh! It can be a recipe, a specific dish you are craving, a new foodie product you just found, a specific restaurants specific dish...it can be a picnic you had - I really don't care! Just make me want to eat it!
  • {mandatory} Please post my button or a clickable link in your post so others can join in - they are located on the bottom of the right sidebar...Walnuts or Garlic? I dig em' both! I don't want to delete posts but this is kind of a scratch my back Ill scratch yours sort of thing...
  • Try not to post and run - check out another recipe and see what's cookin' elsewhere! You may just learn something! :)
  • Please DO NOT link up your linky parties.

Here is what I'll do in return besides hosting this fabulous bash of course...


Each week E and I will pick a recipe (maybe a few) to try out for our weekend feasting. If we likey - we will feature your recipe and blog in an upcoming party. If we don't likey...well, we won't mention you at all. We all know the golden rule - if you don't have anything nice to say then shut up!


Let the mouth watering, drool inducing, stomach grumbling fun BEGIN!! I'm Hungry...
LET'S EAT!!

May 26, 2011

Gutting Your Kitchen? Make Shift Kitchen Time!!


When your kitchen goes to this:




From this:



You tend to learn a little bit about construction and how to make do without...

For any of you who have remodeled a kitchen you know how difficult it is to be without one for weeks, in some cases months, at a time. At first you will think - "No problem, I got this!"...that will slowly turn to "Oh, crap, where are the forks?" and then to..."Let's just eat take out for the next few weeks".... My neighbors are currently going through a major kitchen overhaul (don't worry - I'm taking pictures!) so I thought it would be nice to dedicate this post to them and the "fun" they are enduring.

When we remodeled our kitchen last year (you can read all about it HERE and HERE), I decided early on that I would have to get as much use of our little dining nook as possible during the whole process to make us feel like we were not completely put out. Here is what we did to make us feel somewhat normal during the 2 month period we went without a real kitchen...

1. Toaster oven to the rescue! This was a MUST in our eyes. I cook a lot...everyday all day. To not have use of an oven was a big deal for me. What about my pita pizzas and cookies?? My mom helped me here with the best of all housewarming presents a girl without a kitchen could ever want and need...the Cuisinart Toaster/Convection Oven. This baby had it all! It toasts, it bakes, it broils, in convects, and it will even ding when the cooking is done...oh how I love this machine. In fact, we almost never use our actual oven anymore since this bad boy can fit a 12 inch pizza pan as well as a 11.5x10 inch pan (that comes with it) and a 6'er pan for cupcakes and/or muffins...I LOVE me some cupcakes and, yes, I even made them when we had no kitchen! Of course, I am living without this now as I have lent it to Mandy and Kevin for their big overhaul. So long, toaster oven...we will miss you!

2. Microwave! The easiest way, though not the healthiest, to heat things. We drink A LOT of tea so it was nice to be able to pop a mug of water in the micro and have it be done in 2 minutes. A portable hot plate would have been good but we already had the microwave so we didn't need to buy something else. Plus space was an issue as was outlets!

4. A mini coffee maker (we have since upgraded to a 12 cup one...4 cups wasn't good for parties!). We don't drink coffee but that was no reason to let our construction dudes suffer! While remodeling the kitchen we were putting on a small addition and also gutting a bathroom and incorporating our 3 season room into the house so there was a lot going on and many different people involved. I find men work better with a good ole' cup of Joe in the morning!!

3. Fridge...no pic necessary! Thankfully we were able to get the fridge through the doorway with a little genius on my part that involved having to take the doors completely off and getting sliders under it in order to push it through without scratching it or anyone losing a finger. Even with the doors off it barely fit through. If you wont have access to your fridge then buy or borrow a mini fridge. It will be so worth it!!

4. Giant water containers with pouring spouts from Walmart or anywhere else that sells them - I found Walmart to have the best price so I stocked up...I may have gone a bit overboard as we still have 2 left in the basement fridge! Some may not find this a necessity as they can use there bathroom faucets but in our case it was must. Here is where I would normally insert a picture of our disgusting bathroom faucet/bathroom in desperate need of a makeover but I have decided to preserve your opinion of me...for now, at least...

5. Giant plastic tub for all dirty dishes. Make sure to add a little soapy water inside to keep icky dirty plates from sticking together. I am warning you: DO NOT LET THIS SIT FOR MORE THAN A DAY OR TWO!!! It will stink to high heaven by the time you get around to washing them. Remember - you may not have running water to rinse dishes as you use them so couple that with a bunch of other old food smells and the whole things is rotten! If you can set up an outside washing area that would even be better. We eat a lot of garlic and used our basement to wash the dishes...I think you can do the math on that one.

6. Plastic cups, dishes, bowls. I first bought a bunch of paper plates and bowls but after the first week blowing through all of them I decided to buy some reusable plastic plates that worked much better and were environmentally friendly as we could wash and reuse them. The only thing we could not use them for was reheating food which we used either paper or sometimes a regular glass plate. I tried to minimize the use of glass plates due to the possibility of breakage from the stacking and trekking down stairs to wash.



8. A grill! When all else fails take it outside! I can't tell you how much we started grilling and eating outside. It helped, of course, that we had our veggie garden started so we had fresh vegetables to eat...including corn! We were grilling everything from veggies, to meat, to fish, and even a pizza! You can grill anything! My favorite grilled dish was a mix of sliced zucchini, onions, and peppers hot off the grill, drizzled with 18 year aged balsamic, then sprinkled with feta...yum!!

9. Wine/beer. OK - so this isn't our backyard but you get the gist. Doesn't it feel nice and comforting? I kept my wine glasses out just so I could feel some sense of normalcy and indulgence. You really are in tough times when all you have is a plastic cup to drink your wine out of! If you keep it chic people will wonder how your house could be in such disarray but you look calm and relaxed...this goes hand in hand with #10...

10. The most important of all - keep a good sense of humor. Gutting/rehabbing/ and remodeling is a frustrating process. There are many decisions to be made and so many details you won't have even thought about. The process will be disruptive to your normal cycle and, in turn, will be disruptive to you and and everyone in your household. When you feel your temper rising take a few deep breaths, laugh when you want to cry, and remember...IT WILL ALL BE OVER SOON!

Anyone else about to do a major overhaul? Are you gonna lose your kitchen? Feel free to leave a comment with a link to any before and afters and also any tips you may have for my dear neighbors!!

***I want to add a few extra items my friend at Sugar and Spice in the land of Ball and Sticks sent me...

1. Leave 2 wine glasses out. At the end of the day, when you're exhausted and the whole house is covered in construction dust, you can cling to your real wine glass and close your eyes and envision your new space. It's not the same with a plastic cup.

2. Go to the GardenWeb Kitchen Forum. Tons of expertise as well as handholding over there.

3. If you're a DIYer, sex & lots of it even when you're tired. Trust me on this one. There will come a time when you think you need marriage counseling, and all you need is to remember that you love him, and picked him, and chose to rip apart your home with him.

4. If you're hiring out, document everything. Every phone call, every conversation - write them down in a notebook with dates. You'll probably need to reference them when your contractor claims you never had that conversation.

5. If you're getting stone counters, go to the stoneyard and pick out your slab, then photograph it. Take a pic of both the front and side edge(where the writing is) of the slab. Go ahead and sharpie your name on the edge and photograph that. Then be there when the fabricator lays the templates on the stone.

I can think of lots of others, but those are my top 5.

Today she added...

1. Our Crockpot. Throw stuff in there in the morning, ignore it all day, and voila yummy meal.

2. Rice Cooker. Not just for rice. Also good for stews, lentils, and steamed veggies.

Thanks, LAX Super Mom!!

Bianca Gutting a kitchen, what to so when you have no kitchen, how to make it through the construction process, no power to the kitchen, best toaster oven,
The microwave photo courtesy of Whole Truth Solutions which actually tells you 10 reasons to throw out your microwave! If you are doing a kitchen remodel I suggest you first use the microwave to get you through this troubling period and THEN read the article and decided how you would like to proceed! We still have ours (we actually have 2!) but we don't use them often.

May 25, 2011

Sprout on The Way - Kitchen Remodel Time!

I have mentioned both of my fabulous sets of neighbors in a few posts over the past 5 months of blogging but we are about to get real close and personal with one couple and their Sprout to be.  You may remember Mandy from her GREEN baby shower or the full size bed she recently handed down to us which in turn made our guest room couple friendly.  Her husband, Kevin, is one handy dude who is taking their little brick ranch and making it shine.

Our houses started as the exact same layout 50 years ago with the kitchens being galley style and extremely limited on cabinet space.  Of course, ours has since had an addition put on but the kitchen had never been messed with until last year.  Here is ours before the rehab...

I still curl up into fetal position at the sight of red trim...

And here is theirs...


Overall not to shabby with the creme painted cabinets but the kitchen still lacks some luster with barely any cabinets or counter top space not to mention that weird angled sink that makes it near impossible for shorties like us to reach the windows and anything else we store back there.  Time to upgrade!!

 I recently visited with them on demo day number one...



Oh, yes.  I remember those days...  We had quite a bit of help from the professionals when doing our gut rehab but, in Kevin and Mandy's case, Kevin is doing the entire project with a tiny bit of help from relatives here and there.  This man hasn't seen sunlight in months!  OK - not true but you would think with a full time gig plus all this extra work he would be exhausted by now but no...he shall not stop until the wifey is happy!

While there I had noticed he had just ripped out the carpeting in the living room so Mandy and I pushed him to go a bit further and take the paneling down as well...


The "Oh Shit" look when he realized the panels were glued on and the walls would need a major skim coat!  To late to stop now!



That's where the fun ended and I was immediately kicked out for being a bad influence!

It has been about a month since then and I am happy to say things have progressed...with Sprout AND the kitchen.  Ill be back later this week for more of the big reveal.  In the meantime, if you are planning a big kitchen overhaul which would leave you kitchen-less for awhile make sure to pop back in tomorrow so I can share a few sanity saving tips on how to live without a kitchen during construction!!  Trust me - you will not want to miss this!!

Any tips and/or tricks to share?  Make sure to leave a comment and/or link to your blog so I can include them in tomorrows post.  For those of you who have been through it you know how hard it is to live without a kitchen...even for a day!

Bianca How to remove paneling, Ikea kitchen, how to install an ikea kitchen, kitchen gut rehab,
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