Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snacking Healthy | Banana Almond Butter Toast

My sister gave me a book called The Carb Lover’s Diet. I am a huge fan of carbs and for most of my life I've eaten too many carbs which has caused a lot of my weight problems (though I’m not horribly over weight, I have had some battles on an off with my weight and carbs have had a huge part in that). I decided to give one of the recipes a try, and I actually really liked it! The banana gives you something sweet, the almond butter gives you protein, and the whole wheat toast helps fill you up!

1 ripe banana
1-2 Tablespoons almond butter*
2 pieces of whole wheat toast

1. Mash the banana on a plate.
2. Stir in the almond butter.
3. Toast your bread.
4. Spread the banana mix on the toast and enjoy!


-I say 1-2 Tablespoons because if you need more protein you can add more almond butter. 1 Tablespoon is what I would recommend for the first time you try this recipe though!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How-To Prepare To Get A Cat

In April of 2013 my hubby wanted to get me a cat. He knew how much I loved animals, and at the time we were in an apartment that only allowed cats. I have had many cats before, but never an indoor cat. The process of picking out a cat was really simple for us. At the time we lived in a town which had a Pet Smart store. On Saturdays they would have pets in from a local animal shelter who were ready for adoption. We ended up picking a cat (Emerald) and were able to get her a few days later after paperwork was filled out.

If you've never had an indoor cat, this post is for you. If you have had or do have an indoor cat, please feel free to share comments on things you do to care for your cat and what things you like most (types of litter, toys, etc.).

Things You Will Need or Want
Litter box & fresh litter
Poop scooper
5 gallon bucket with lid
Dry cat food and/or wet cat food
Water & food bowls
Cat toys

The Breakdown
Litter box. Obviously if you’re going to have an indoor cat you will need somewhere for them to use the bathroom. You can purchase a traditional litter box, or you can shop the storage containers isle and find a container with higher sides. If you’re getting a small kitten the larger sides will cause a problem for them until they've grown big enough to get in and out of a larger box. There are LOTS of options in the litter box department. If you’re adopting a cat who has been under the care of a foster mom, ask what kind of litter box they use and perhaps get the same thing or something similar.

(The cat we adopted was almost full grown and was completely able to handle the large container we chose to use as her litter box. Part of that decision came from the fact that her foster mom had used a container with large sides so she was used to using that as her litter box. When we got Demi, or small grey cat, I had to use a small container for his litter box until he grew big enough to jump in and out of the large container).

Fresh Litter. Used litter is going to stink. Period. But that doesn't mean you don’t have to settle for something that doesn't help get rid of that smell. I must say that choosing a good litter was really hard for us. We went through four different types of litter before we found one that really kept the smell down, was easy to clean, and helped our cats paws not stink like poo. We are currently using Tidy Cats for Multiple Cats: 24/7 Performance (the red lid) and have been using it for more than 6 months. It is a clumping litter which really helps with the clean-up process.

Poop Scooper. This is highly important!! I just bought a large plastic scooper. If they came in something less flexible (like a metal scooper) I would totally prefer that since some of the stuff can be heavy when cleaning out the box.

Your cat’s litter box will need to be scooped every other day at the very least if you’re unable to scoop it every day. Scooping litter regularly really helps keep the smell down. At least once a month you will need to get rid of ALL the litter in the box and pour in fresh litter. This will greatly help with keeping the smell down.

5 gallon bucket with lid. Cat food comes in both large and small bags, but the larger bag is generally a better amount for your money. We have two cats and go through about __ oz. of cat food in 2 or 3 months. In order to help keep the food from becoming stale I like to store it in a 5 gallon bucket close to where the cats are fed every day. You can find 5 gallon buckets at Walmart in the hardware section, or if your Walmart has the ingredients for making your own laundry soap in one place they usually have the large 5 gallon bucket and lids there as well. I think this costs around $3-$4 for the bucket and lid.

Cat Food. As mentioned just above, sometimes buying a larger bag of cat food is the better choice when considering the amount you get for your money. I usually feed each cat about 1 cup of dry cat food per day, occasionally it’s more but they seem to do fine on this amount.

Wet cat food can be quite a bit more expensive. We were given a case of wet cat food when we got Emerald. Apparently she really liked it…but every time I've fixed it for her it will sit there most of the day before she touches it. I eventually stopped fixing it for her since she wouldn't eat it all and it was going to waste. The wet cat food came in handy when we rescued Demi (who was around 6 weeks old). He was unable to eat dry cat food for about a week and a half when we got him so it came in handy at that point. (I still kept a small bowl of dry food with him so he would be able to eat that if he wanted to. Eventually he started eating dry food and we stopped feeding him wet food altogether.)

Water & food bowls. We bought the small metal cat bowls from Walmart. I think they were a dollar each. If I could go back and do it again I wouldn't buy metal bowls for the cat’s water. They don’t seem to like drinking out of the metal bowls and we found them drinking from the toilet more than their bowls (so obviously we changed to a plastic water bowl and now keep the toilet lids down). The metal bowl works great for dry cat food though!

Hairbrush. We got a brush for Emerald with both the soft bristles and the metal ones. She is a shedder and I thought having a brush would help her not shed so much, but it really doesn't. In fact we pretty much never use the brush on her. I still have it and on occasion, when she’s having a really bad shedding day, I will brush her fur with it which helps temporarily. Both of our cats are short haired so their fur does not get matted or tangled and they do a good job at keeping themselves clean so a brush really isn't necessary for either one of them. If you have a long haired cat (which I've had in the past) their fur can get mats in it so brushing them regularly really decreases that problem.

Cat toys. We have had quite the adventure in the cat toy department. It’s been almost as crazy as trying to find a good litter. One toy that has just been marvelous are the original toys we bought when we got Emerald (and bought again not long after we got Demi since the original mice were old and ‘dying’ aka falling apart due to so much play). The Skitter Critters Catnip Mice are wonderful! I actually wrote a whole post on them if you would like more info. They can be purchased at Walmart for around $3.

Something we bought not long after we got Emerald was a red laser light. She goes nuts over it, and will come running any time it jingles when it’s picked up. Demi could care less about the laser when he was really little, but since he’s gotten bigger he loves it almost as much Emerald does. This was a great toy investment and something I’d really recommend. Our cats love chasing the laser across the floor, on furniture, and occasionally on the wall (Demi will play with the laser if it’s on the wall, Emerald wont). You can find one of these in the checkout section at Walmart for about $3.

At one point we purchased a Cardboard Claw Scratcher and it was a complete fail which you can read about here. Of course we bought it for Emerald in hopes that she would use that to sharpen her claws vs. our furniture, but she pretty much just looked at it and went on. I think if we had kept it (had we known we were getting another cat) that Demi might have used it when he was little and would probably still use it. I don’t think he would use it now though since he has already picked up on Emerald’s bad habit of using the couch to sharpen his claws (we do discourage them from doing this, but occasionally they are sneaky and get to the couch before we can get to them). The Claw Scratcher was about $5 at Walmart.

The final ‘toy’ item we purchased was this multi-purpose toy. It has a scratching post (which Demi will use, but Emerald wont), two jingly balls hanging on strings on the two corner posts, and a place for the cat to climb inside and ‘hide’ from people or each other. I personally don’t think this is a really great toy or of great quality, but they do use it a few times a week (sometimes less, sometimes more) so we've kept it. This was about $20, and also from Walmart.

Summary of this Post
Well I think I got everything listed that we bought, used, didn't really use, liked, and didn't like. Hopefully this will help someone who is thinking about getting an indoor cat. Indoor cats can be fun, but they can also be highly annoying. Cats in general don’t listen very well, and are quite lazy (napping most of the day and awake most of the night). The big things are being consistent with what they’re not allowed to do (our cats aren't allowed on the kitchen counters or table, and they’re not supposed to scratch their claws on the furniture), keep their litter box scooped at least every other day, and show them lots of affection. I've tagged the posts where I’ve shared things about our cats under the label CATS so if you want to read more or see more about our cats click there and read on!
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Little Man's Room, Part 2

Not too long ago I shared with you all the remaking of Little Man's Room. We had a long process of tearing out wallpaper, scraping off pop corn ceiling, texturing the walls and ceiling, and then painting everything. It took quite a bit of time, but the end result was SO worth it!

I had everything in the living room the week we painted his room so I could get it all sorted.

As promised I'm back with photos of moving in the baby furniture & putting away Little Man's things in his closet and dresser. Sorting out all the clothes I had found over several months through yard sales and thrift stores was quite a task! Putting it all away wasn't too hard, but I did have trouble remembering which drawer I put what in.

Demi is checking out the baby changing table. He found it quite interesting & fun to play on as you will see below!

Emerald wasn't quite sure what to make of the new baby stuff. Notice my baby belly on the right? :)

We have a few stuffed animals for Little Man. They perched on the dresser until I could find a better place for them.

These are the blocks I found at a yard sale this fall. They sat on the dresser until I found a better place for them.

Demi LOVES the changing table! And he found a new way to play with the strings to the blinds.
Yes those are pink blinds, we hadn't changed them out for the new ones at this point.

I'm not really sure what Demi is doing here...

Again Demi is playing and it involves the changing table.

This is the view coming into the room. The bed isn't set up at this point because we had lost a few pieces in the move.

This is the view from where the baby bed is in the previous photo.

This changing table was found at a yard sale over the summer for $20 and it matches the bed perfectly!

Here we have the top shelf in Little Man's closet. I have yet to redo the closet the way I want, but for now it works.
On the shelf we have a box of MUCH bigger clothes (like 2T, 3T and so on), the diaper bag has a breast pump kit in it, the car seat covers are next, and finally we have our new diaper bags which were a gift from a good friend of mine.

All of these clothes are bigger than 0-3 months. I have them hanging since it'll be a few months before we need them.

I think his tiny shoes are adorable!
These probably wouldn't fit him for awhile, but I got them at deals that were too good to pass up!

In this drawer I have his bath towels and wash cloths.

In this drawer I have the little baby things, burp cloths, and teething rings.

These are all the newborn size clothes & the socks.

These are the 0-3 month onesies and pants.

These are all the sleepers, most of them are 0-3 months but I have one or two the next size up.

Because it's nearly impossible to fit shorts on the hangers
I just put them in the drawer instead of with the other too big clothes. 

The baby blankets!

It was fun to finally be able to put away all the things I'd spent months collecting for Little Man. I'm really glad the dresser has so many drawers. Two or three of them are still empty, but I'm sure they will fill up the older he gets.

Eventually I want to redo the closet, but that is for another time. The dresser probably needs to be sanded and refinished, but again...that's a project for another day! I'm quite pleased with how his room came along. I'm sure you saw the post where I made a pillow for the rocking chair. That was the first 'decor' item I had in his room. I still have to finish decorating. That is taking much longer that I thought it would, but I'll eventually have it done and then I'll share photos!
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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Refashionista | Ugly Pillows to Mossy Oak Pillow

Not only is this post a refashionista project, but it’s also a salvage project from a previously blogged FAIL (Nursing Cover). I originally thought this would be a fun DIY pillow recover post, but my plans quickly changed when I cut open the cover of the first pillow to find crumbly foam bits filling it (see photo just below). I was quite disappointed at first because the project I thought would be so easy looked like it was going to be much more complicated than anticipated.

With a few minutes to think I finally came up with a way I figured would work with the things I had. I was already going to use the fabric from the nursing cover fail to redo these pillows so I just decided to make a big case and then stuff it with the foam bits.

First I cut the two pieces of fabric to be 14x23 inches. Two sides of the fabric were previously sewn together from the FAIL project so I just had to pin the remaining two sides. I went ahead and stitched most of this area up and got it ready to inside out.

I left about a 6 inch gap in the middle, bottom of the pillow to have space to stuff it with the foam bits. This ended up being barely big enough for me to fit my fist full of foam bits in. I laid a big piece of fabric under the pillow so it would catch all the stuffing that kept falling out so I wouldn’t have to pick it out of the carpet later.

You can see the foam bits sticking to the outside of the pillow. I had to really brush it off to get rid of them all.

Once I got the pillow stuffed I pinned the gap shut. I thought I’d be able to stitch it together on my sewing machine, but that proved impossible. I threaded a needle and went after it with some really horrible hand stitching.

I think the stitch I used is called a whip stitch? Either way it was the easiest thing to do to the pillow so that’s why I did it. I put the stitches really close together so that the foam stuff couldn't come out of the pillow.

I am quite pleased with the finished pillow. I honestly didn’t expect it to turn out so well. It’s a tiny bit lumpy, but all things considered it’s really not bad and it is actually perfect for using as a back support pillow in the rocking chair since it has a little give to it from the foam bits. I’m completely happy with how it turned out!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cooking For 2 | Tomato Basil Pasta

I recently started getting my love for cooking & creating new dishes back. Not long after I got pregnant (April 2013) I lost my love of cooking. I would make something and then would be unable to eat or enjoy it once it was ready. It was horrible! For months I cooked almost nothing. I ate simple things like cereal, sandwiches and salads. I am SO glad that my love for cooking is coming back though. I think hubby is glad too. This is a dish I've wanted to make for awhile but haven’t because of reasons listed above. I love Italian food and was really pleased with how delicious this dish turned out.

2 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
4oz. cream cheese (1/2 package)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ stick butter
2 ¼ cups milk
1 6oz. can tomato paste
3 Tablespoons white flour
1 Tablespoon basil
1 lb. pasta
1 6oz. jar Giorgio sliced mushrooms
1 15oz. can Italian diced tomatoes

1. Cook the chicken breasts in boiling water for 30 minutes or until completely white when cut open. When the chicken finishes cooking set it out to cool, save the juice to cook noodles in.
2. In a saucepan, mix together the cream cheese, parmesan cheese, butter, milk, and tomato paste. Drain the mushroom & tomato juice into the pot to add flavor. Bring to a light boil on medium-high heat. Add in basil.
3. Boil your pasta using the leftover juice from cooking the chicken.
4. When the sauce is hot stir in the flour and when it has a nice texture turn the heat off.
5. Add your previously drained mushrooms & tomatoes to the pasta sauce.
6. Shred the chicken and add to the sauce.
7. Stir the noodles into the sauce.
8. Serve the pasta hot with parmesan cheese on top.

-We ate our tomato basil pasta with some garlic & cheese Texas toast. It was delicious!
-We had enough leftovers for dinner the next night so this recipe is a little more than 2 would eat in one meal.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Refashionista | Men's Waffle Shirt to Skirt

In fall of 2012 I put together a skirt using a men’s waffle shirt. I thought I’d be able to write a tutorial post with it, but as it didn't turn out quite as good as I expected I decided I would just share photos instead.

The shirt before it was transformed into a skirt.

Turning a men’s shirt into a skirt is actually quite tricky. I've tried it several times and so far this particular skirt is the only success. I usually wear medium or large in the skirt department, but to turn a shirt into a skirt for me I usually have to use a men’s XL so that there is enough room in the waist of the finished skirt. It’s a complicated process that’s for sure!

The shirt about to be turned into a skirt.

The main thing you have to do is get the shirt from its ‘shirt shape’ to a big square or rectangle shape. After that you can add the waistband and if you have enough excess fabric you should be able to put in an elastic waist band so the skirt fits comfortably. I wasn't able to do that with this skirt, but if I try this idea again at any point in the near future I’ll try be able to add in an elastic band so it’ll fit better. The waist in the skirt is actually a little big on me so layering is necessary to keep it up!

Here is an outfit post where I wore this skirt:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Little Man's Room, Part 1

This is the only 'before' photo I have of Little Man's room and it was taken after the wallpaper was mostly gone.

When hubby & I moved into our new home I knew which room would be redone first: the baby’s room. We moved in August and at that time we didn't know yet what we were having. We now have a three bedroom house and I knew right away which room would be the baby’s. Unfortunately that room needed a LOT of work. There was white wall paper on all the walls and it had popcorn ceiling which HAD to go. We thought about painting the room a light aqua blue color, but then decided to just wait until we knew if we were having a girl or boy before we painted.

This is the wall with wallpaper on it. It has been sprayed with water (the brown patches) and is almost ready to come off.

The first step in the remaking of the baby’s room was to tear out all the wall paper. This took a lot longer than I expected and took a ton of elbow grease too. When I went to peel off the wallpaper the top part came off and the ‘glue’ stuck to the wall. I had to use warm water and a scraper to peel that stuff off.

Here you can see where the popcorn ceiling was scraped off (top part) and the mud texture is replacing it.

Once the walls were clean it was time to scrape off the popcorn ceiling. I didn't actually do this job myself, but I attempted it before having a friend come scrape the rest of it off for me. She made it look so easy!

The walls were in really bad shape, as you can tell here from the small section that hasn't been textured yet.

The next step was to texture the walls and ceiling with texturing mud. I am pretty good at texturing walls and was really glad this was something I could do that wasn't terribly hard… Well, texturing the walls wasn't hard, but doing the ceiling was a pain.

Hubby starting the painting process for the walls. The ceiling its already done since he did that first.

The final process in the redoing was painting the ceiling & walls. Hubby took on this job and I was quite impressed at how well he did since he’d never painted before. I was nervous about the color at first, but once all the walls had paint on them I felt much better. We went with a light sage green color. It goes really well with the furniture in there!

The furniture was moved in and looks so fantastic with the paint color!

Now that the room has been redone it is time to start putting things away and decorating it! I am excited about this next step and really hope it all comes together well.

Here are a few more photos from the baby room redo project, in case you want to see more!

This photo shows the annoying part of the wallpaper that wouldn't come off unless you literally soaked it in water.

Here is a shot of the ceiling the day after I did the new mud texturing.
The darker spots represent areas that were not dry yet.

Hubby & Demi playing with the paint roller. He was waiting on me to show him how to use the paint stuff.

Hubby working on painting the walls. I was really worried about the color,
but felt much better once all the walls were painted.

Hubby painting along the ceiling. This part was quite tricky!

These are the walls before hubby got to the top part. I was starting to like the color at this point.

Painting around the closet proved a tiny bit difficult, but no paint got on the doors!
We removed the doors to paint the edge around the inside and
when we tried to put them back on we discovered that was a REALLY bad idea!

Demi was very interested in the painting process. Here he is supervising from his perch on the chair.

We used a fancy edger tool to quickly paint along the edges. I LOVED it!
I totally need to buy one since the one we used was borrowed and I had to give it back. It's a time saver for sure!h
Another thing about this shot is you can really see the texturing on the ceiling.

Well that's what I have for now! The next part I plan to share with you will be photos of things put away in the closet and dresser. I'm still working on the room decor. There aren't really any great ideas on Pinterest so putting everything together is taking some time & creativity! When I get the decor finished I'll for sure share pics! I've got a few things in the works, but only one of them is done right now. I didn't realize decorating a boys room with a hunting theme would be so difficult!
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