Thursday, June 17, 2010

Recent Treasures Found

Since it's summer and school is out I have time to scour the Treasure Stores for fabulous pieces at low, low prices. I ask the boys to go with me, but so far they're not digging the shopping experience. Still I'm managing to get them to check on, craigslist or eBay when considering a purchase so hopefully my penny-pinching ways are rubbing off on them.

First let me apologize for some of the pictures. I'm slowly getting that the camera on the phone is not the best way to convey an image sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to haul out the big ol' grandmama camera if I'm in a store trying to get an inspiration shot, but for things that are already at home I should take the time.


I picked this black dresser up at Goodwill for $19.99. All wood and cute as a button. Why so relatively inexpensive? Because the top isn't attached. That's right, the whole top of the dresser is just sitting prettily on top of the drawer case. Makes me no nevermind though. All I need is some wood glue, long enough finishing nails and some touch up paint then we are as good as new. The silver knobs and handles aren't my thing so I'll need to replace those as well. I'm thinking glass. It will take some time to find what I want, but I know it's out there waiting.

I am always looking for inspiration and this time it comes in the form of a coffee table book. I found this little gem at my Secret Thrift Store for $2.99. Hard cover and practically brand new. There are some really good ideas in there and it looks pretty to boot.

You'll recognize the bench from a past reincarnation post. I'm still deciding if I'm okay with the brass legs. As I sit here looking at the current picture I'm thinking no. I will probably go back in and paint it black. You'll know as soon as I know for sure.

But under that bench you'll find a basket that I'm using for shoes. We're trying not to wear shoes in the house. Our house only has carpet in two rooms now, our bedroom and my craft room. The rest of the house is wood or tile so the dirt and dust builds up fast. We're hoping to keep the grit at bay by not wearing shoes in the house. This basket is to corral incoming shoes. So far it's hard to break a habit, but I digress., basket!

This basket was also purchased at Goodwill for $2.99. I swear I can't buy a new basket. Even at -%40 at the craft stores they're still expensive. I'm more than happy to wait until someone gets tired of their old basket and donates it. Then I'll pick it up for a song and help the environment as well.

I've been looking for a lamp shade for a wayward lamp for about 6 months. I happened up this gem at Goodwill for $1.99. I love purple! The trim matches a brown lamp shade I also have in my living room so there's chemistry. I love it when things just fit!

The table you see is also a Treasure Store find. This one came from a shopping expedition with my cousins. Once a month we go out to lunch and check out the nearby thrift stores. We also check out thrift stores when we go on vacation. We're a wild bunch.

So while we were in foreign-thrift-store-land I saw this stair step bookshelf. I'm not really even sure what it's supposed to be, but my best guess is that it used to be library stairs because there are wheels on the bottom. I wouldn't trust my 11-year-old's weight on it let alone mine, so we're finding an alternate use for it. It was a little past my "price pause", but it's a really cool piece. The shelf was $24.99 and even after having it in the house for awhile I don't regret the purchase one bit.

Now if I can just get the boys to quit using the shelf to house their free weights.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Martha's Margarita Cheesecake

You love the drink so the cheesecake must rock, right? What prompted me to try this recipe aside from my love of margaritas is the leftover pretzels I had in our snack drawer. My kids aren't much for pretzels and I thought I needed a creative way to used them up.

The first step was to make the cheesecake crust. I pulsed the pretzels, butter and sugar to get a yummy crumbly mess.

Then take the mixture and press it down into a spring form pan. The pretzel mixture will come up a bit above the side and that's okay.

Be very careful when you pull the blade out of the food processor or you'll get crumbs all over the counter...

Then you mix up all the cream cheese, booze and lime to make the filling. I mixed it up in Rosita, my Kitchen Aid mixer, for about 2 minutes until everything was well blended. Then I poured it over the baked and slightly cooled crust.

Martha does a water bath to keep the cheesecake from cracking, but I think the cracks give the dish character. And I'm lazy.

Join me for a slice, won't you?

Margarita Cheesecake from Everyday Food

4 ounces salted pretzels
1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, or Triple Sec
1 tablespoon tequila
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
4 large eggs

1.Make crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in center. Make the crust: Butter a 9 1/2 inch springform pan; set aside. In a food processor, pulse pretzels to fine crumbs. Add sugar and butter; process until combined.

2.Press evenly into bottom and slightly up sides (about 1 inch) of a 9-inch nonstick springform pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake until light golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3.Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Prepare filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about 1 minute. Mix in sour cream, sugar, Grand Marnier, tequila, and lime zest; beat until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each addition.

4.Pour into cooled crust (filling will come up higher than crust). Line outside of pan with aluminum foil (to prevent water from seeping in). Place in a roasting pan. Pour hot water to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until set and slightly firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Remove from water bath, and let cool on a wire rack; refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours. Run a hot knife around edge of pan to release.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Keeping It Together

I'm bad at starting a yarn skein.

Really bad.

I end up turning the skein inside out and I usually get a pile of undone yarn at my finger tips. I'm working on it, but in the mean time I'm having to have TracyLoopers help me out pretty much every time (hey there's a tutorial in the making).

I'm going to get it some day and when I do I have a way to keep the skein all together. It's brilliant and best of all free(ish)!

Awesome, right? I was at the store the other day purchasing another item and I found this perfect yarn wrangler. You may have to look in a part of the store you wouldn't expect, but really this is the best accessory I've found to keep the yarn from unraveling.

Why yes, that is a bottle of tequila! I purchased this for the Margarita Cheesecake I planned to make for the end of the school year party. The cheesecake didn't happen, but isn't it nice to walk away with a lovely parting gift?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ahhh, The Second Day of Summer

Today at lunch the server asked me if I'd like more tea. Sure, I replied. Just as she was about to pour she asked me, "is regular tea alright?" Oh, no I told her, I would need unsweetened. She looked at me oddly and assured me it was regular tea.

Hmm, you're not from Texas, are you?

It turns out she was not. In Texas sweet tea is regular tea. If you have to sweeten it with the "pink stuff" then we call it unsweetened.

This distinction falls along the same lines as "coke" (as in cola, not as in controlled substance). Many Texans ask if you want a coke and then ask what kind such as Dr. Pepper, Sprite, Diet Coke. "Coke" around these parts is synonymous with "soda". Or pop for you folks from the North.

Later we hit Costco to scoop up the coupon deals. Every one of these deals cost a little more than the last time. I have to say that I've given Costco a good two year run and I think I'm done. We have both a Costco and Sam's within 2 miles of us so I can afford to be choosy.

All things considered I like the products Sam's has better. Costco is very conscious and aware, but I'm a bit more of pedestrian shopper. I don't really need "organic" cheese puffs nor do I need to be socially aware about my non-dairy coffee creamer. I dig that Costco can help people who want to be that in tune, but if imma buying cheese puffs, we've long since crossed that hippie bridge.

Anyway I think I'll let my Costco card go this year. With Sam's I have a business card so I can shop right after I drop the kids at school and the timing is way more convenient for me than the geography.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

EOY Teacher Gifts

First I want to apologize for the quality of the pictures this time. My camera was pppffftt on the battery and my phone was all I had before I took these in to deliver to our Special Areas teachers. You get the idea though.

This year I wanted to acknowledge my sons' Special Area (Art, Music & P.E.) teachers. I always get their homeroom teachers and this year I took care of both my older son's class period teachers, but sometimes the SA teacher slip through. Their work is equally important since it gives my kids the opportunity to learn outside of a book. I love that Art, Music and P.E. are the most interactive of all the classes they have in school. The planning and preparation for these subjects is amazing!

The way I recognized these teachers this year is to give them a plant in a "pot" they could keep for supplies later. I picked up these tin cans sans the lettering at a Treasure Store earlier this year.

I used the Cricut cartridge "Printing 101 " to cut out the word "inspire" in vinyl letters. Then I adhered them to the mini bucket. If you don't have a Cricut then I'm sure the precut vinyl letters from the store will work just as well. I just like the versatility of the Cricut and using color vinyl.

The garden sticks I downloaded from Skip to My Lou (and you should too). After printing these out I used my 1 3/4" punch to cut the circles out. I love the look of a scalloped edge, but I can't find my scalloped punch. The other side of creativity is being a tad disorganized in my case. Still now I have something to look forward to when I finally do put my hands on the scalloped do-dad. Finally I taped the cut outs to the back of a coffee stick, but a skewer would work just as well.

I picked up some Zinnias from the home improvement store. I love the bright color of the Zinnias and I like the idea that annuals last longer than cut flowers. I believe I paid $1.35 for each plant.

And here is the final product.

I made several of these since I had the supplies and no end to the people I who deserved recognition for a great school year.
Bucket...............................................................$ .25
Zinnia ...............................................................$1.35
Supplies on hand (cardstock, vinyl, etc)..... $1.00
Total................................................................. $2.60
Even though this was absolutely a thrifty gift I think it still had an impact. I think a great gift is personalized whether it's because an item was chosen and purchased thoughtfully or whether the item was thoughtfully prepared.

The Girl Creative