Monday, April 28, 2014

Dining Room Shelves

This was my first attempt at woodworking. I have refinished furniture but I had never actually tried to make my own. I had been reading Ana's website for a while now and finally got the courage to go buy a kreg jig and get to work. I chose this project because of the small amount of lumber needed and the simplicity of the plan. I figured if this one turned out OK then I could move on to bigger, badder projects.


  • (1) 1x2x8 pine board
  • (2) 1x4x8 pine board
  • Mini Wax Gunstock stain
  • Rustoleum Dark Walnut stain
  • Sandpaper
  • Scrap rags
  • Paintbrush
  • Mini Wax Semi-gloss polyurethane
I followed Ana's plans here and watched her video to make sure I did it right. This was the first time I had used the kreg jig and I wanted to make sure I did it right. One thing I found was that you need to make sure you check the washer on your drill bit frequently with the kreg jig. Mine came loose and I didn't realize it. I almost tried drilling a hole through my kreg jig base!

When I went to go buy stain I found the color I wanted on the sample board but the store did not have it in stock. I called my mom (because that is what I do when I get stumped) to ask her for advice on what to do. I did not want to paint my shelves white because I felt it would blend in too much. White shelves on a white wall with white decorations seemed a little much. Her suggestion was to mix one of the stains I already had at home with a lighter one from the store. I thought that was crazy but it actually ended up working. The stain looks great. Not too red but not too grey either. A perfect mix of both stains.

The way I did the stain took a couple of steps.
  1. First, sand your shelf to make it smooth. Wipe off all the dust.
  2. Next, wipe on the dark walnut stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Remove access stain.
  3. Then, wipe on the gustock stain over the walnut stain. Let sit for a few minutes and then remove access.
  4. Once the shelf has dried for a few hours you can apply the polyurethane. I did two coats. Make sure to lightly sand in between coats so that you get a nice even layer.

After hanging my shelves I decorated with those superhero plates and placed my DIY artwork on either side. I am so excited with how these shelves turned out. I already have a list of projects I want to tackle next!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dining Room Makeover

Ever since moving into my new apartment I have had a vision of what it would look like. I wanted something light, airy, and full of fun bright colors. I wanted a cute little cottage feel. Slowly, I have been adding little touches here and there. For my dining room I knew I wanted somewhere to display the superhero plates I had made for my boyfriend, some large pieces of artwork, and a nice table.

After scouring craigslist, I found the perfect French provincial table and chairs. It was the perfect size for my small dinning room and after changing the fabric it was almost perfect. I still need to refinish the table top since there are some water stains and scratches on it but that will be a project for warmer weather. The next thing I did was look for artwork. Everything I found was either not to my liking or WAY too expensive. After searching through Pinterest I found some good inspiration and made my own. I will be blogging about that project later this week so make sure to keep an eye out! The last step was to find some kind of storage. After searching for a while I realized there was nothing out there I really liked. Recently, I found Ana White's website and all her amazing building plans. I think she is super inspiring and after reading her "about me" section I picked a building plan, bought a kreg jig and some wood, and got to building my very own shelves. I am so excited with how they turned out and cannot wait to try my next project!



I think that everything came together very nicely. I love when a room finally looks put together. Even though I have been in this apartment for almost 6 months it was still looking like I had just moved in. My boyfriend had been hinting he was about to start hanging his own artwork if I didn't do it soon which definitely lit a fire under my butt to get it done. While I love the artwork he has, I think an entire apartment covered in superheros would be a little much! Hope my dining room transformation inspires you all to start your own home improvement projects!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Simple Egg Salad

This is an easy, simple recipe that takes almost no time... my kind of meal! I like to occasionally make a double batch and refrigerate it for quick access to easy lunches and dinners. You need very few ingredients and only a little bit of time.

  • 1/3 cup light miracle whip
  • 3 Tbls mustard
  • 5 eggs
  1. Boil eggs for 15 minutes.
  2. Peel eggs and chop into small pieces.
  3. Add miracle whip and mustard. Mix until well combined.
  4. Chill in fridge or serve immediately on toast.

This meal is perfect for the warm months and is delicious warm or cold. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chicken Puffs

Many years ago when I was in high school my mom decided to try once a month cooking. She did a lot of planning, came up with a list of recipes, did some major grocery shopping and started the day long process of prepping and cooking. Out of all the meals she made that day there was one that stayed in my mind: Chicken Puffs. I now make it on a regular basis in bulk batches which I can then take to work for an easy lunch. Over the years I have modified it to work for my particular preferences and needs. I have seen variations of this recipe all over Pinterest which shows how great a recipe it is. The original version we made years ago had many more ingredients and included dairy. Now that I am lactose intolerant I have changed some ingredients to accommodate this.

Last night I decided to try my own hand at freezer cooking and made several of my favorite meals that could easily be frozen ahead of time and then later cooked. This chicken puff recipe is made completely from scratch and is 100% dairy free!

Crescent Rolls - modified from Home Cooking Adventure

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbls sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tbls Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • 8 oz dairy-free cream cheese, softened
  • 4 Tbls butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • Almond milk, optional
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add to dry mixture. 
  2. Add milk and eggs. Mix everything together well.
  3. Add butter and knead dough until it is smooth. Cover with dish towel and let it rise in a warm area for one hour. Dough should double in size.
  4. In medium bowl mix together chicken, cream cheese, butter, and garlic salt. May add almond milk if mixture is too dry. 
  5. Roll out crescent roll dough and cut into rectangles. 
  6. Add medium size scoop of chicken mixture to the middle of each crescent roll rectangle.
  7. Pinch ends of crescent rolls together. Dough should form around the chicken mixture like a hot pocket.
  8. Place on baking pan and cook for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until they are a nice golden brown.

This recipe makes around 8-10 chicken puffs depending on how big you make them. I cooked half right away and the rest I froze for a rainy day. If you do not want to make your own crescent rolls you can just use the canned ones at the store. That is how I used to make them but unfortunately they contain some dairy. While dairy that has been cooked does not affect me as much as uncooked dairy I have still been trying to avoid it. 

For the chicken, I made a large batch using Gimme Some Oven's crock-pot recipe. All of the extra chicken I froze in individual servings for later use. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake

This last week has been a long one. I have spent it either working or sleeping and so I have not had much time to upload to this blog and for that I apologize. I also had a death in the family which has made things tough for all of us. I have not done much cooking or crafting but plan to get back into it soon. I have been planning to try some freezer cooking and will be sharing some of those recipes soon. For now I have an old recipe that I have not yet shared. My absolute favorite dessert.... Cheesecake!

Before I became lactose intolerant I used to make cheesecake all of the time. It was my favorite desert to make for people and it was so much fun to experiment with different fillings, toppings, and crusts. Not too long ago I decided to experiment with making a dairy free one. The recipe I decided to try was made up of four parts: graham cracker crust, cheesecake filling, lemon curd, and a strawberry topping.

  • 1 1/2 cups graham crackers
  • 3 Tbls butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 pkgs 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
Lemon Curd
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 Tbls butter
Strawberry Topping
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tbls lemon juice
  1. Start by making the lemon curd. In a small saucepan over medium heat whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and eggs. Once combined, add butter in small pieces and stir until mixture thickens. Strain mixture to eliminate any solid pieces and refrigerate. 
  2. Next, make the crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Crush graham cracker crumbs and mix with sugar and butter. Press into bottom of cheesecake pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool and reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Make the filling by combining cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla. Cheesecake works best if you do not over-mix. Stir just until everything is evenly combined. 
  4. Pour mixture into pan on top of crust. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour or until center is set but jiggly.
  5. While cheesecake is baking, make the strawberry sauce. Wash and slice strawberries and combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring. Remove from heat and cool in refrigerator.
  6. Once cheesecake is done place in refrigerator and let cool overnight. Spread lemon curd evenly on top of cheesecake once cool the next morning. Cover in strawberry sauce before serving.

This cheesecake has a slightly different texture than regular cheesecake. The vanilla and lemon help hide the non-dairy taste and add some nice flavors. This is a great dessert for the coming warmer months. Hope you all enjoy!