Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hard Work on the Homestead (Part One)

     With Spring and Summer just around the corner there will be a lot of outside chores demanding our attention.  So, we've been spending time lately getting things done on the inside while we can.  I created a mile long list of things that needed to be done before outside duties call.  So, in the last several weeks, my husband has been hard at work checking off my seemingly never ending "honey-do" list.  I found it only fitting to take a moment and dedicate a blog post to him.  He's spent countless late nights working on projects and hour after hour trying to perfect his amateur skills.  We've been married for seventeen years and he has never been one I'd consider a carpenter.  However, he's proven to the both of us that with a lot of practice and determination he can pretty much build whatever I dream up.  And, now that a few projects are under his belt, he's not looking very amateur anymore. Below you will find some pictures and some bragging.  Maybe you'll be inspired. If we can "do it ourselves", I know you can! :-)

     The first picture I'm sharing is a before that doesn't yet have an after. For those of you that follow us on Facebook, you saw posts asking for well wishes as we began the project of hanging beadboard in the kitchen and breakfast nook. That project took about two weeks to get on the wall and a few days past that to get it all painted. Although my husband has come quiet a long way in improving his carpentry skills, his caulking and painting still leaves a little to be desired.  This is a good place to state that as long as we've been married, very few projects have made it to the "complete" status without help from my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law.  Regarding the recent projects, they've stepped in to do caulking and painting...that's their "usual" job.  And, might I add they do it from the heart.  So, that saves me a TON of money.  I must also add we are very fortunate that my dad has A LOT of power tools.  He has willingly loaned them out to us without hesitation.  If we didn't have access to the tools he has, I'm not really sure how the "honey-do list" would be getting these big DIY projects checked off of the list.
      Above you can see that the beadboard is up.  In this picture, the trim wasn't up nor was any of it painted.  Before an after picture is posted, I will have to get the table back.  That's the other area where my sister-in-law helps get projects to "complete".  If anything needs refinished or refurbished, she's the one to go to.  Currently, she has the table and is in the process of giving it a facelift.  Although I do like the traditional country style of this table, I am ready for a change.  I figure it can always be sanded back down to the original finish in years to come if we decide to do that. (Check back later when Part Two is posted to see the finished beadboard and how the table turns out.)

     The main area of the kitchen and breakfast nook now looks refreshed and brightened with a nice coat of white paint all over the newly installed beadboard.  However, the island/bar in the kitchen is the place where all four of my children and all of their friends gather.  They are there for breakfast, for snacks, for homework, and for just hanging out while I'm cooking in the kitchen.  You can imagine the wear and tear that area receives. So, we decided to paint that just a little bit different. 

     If you notice, not only did the beadboard change from white to black, but the barstools also received a facelift and went from black to distressed red.  (Another thanks to my sister-in-law).   I wish I had thought to take the TRUE before picture which was of the bar area with no beadboard at all under it.  It was just the painted sheetrock wall. 

     After the beadboard project was complete, the DREADED garage project began.  Not to be redundant but we have four children ages 12 and under.  So, you can imagine how quickly a garage gets out of shape...piled with bikes, riding toys, balls, gloves, sidewalk chalk, "junk" from a quick car clean out, etc.  You name it, it was in our way in the garage.  So, I actually got to be helpful in this project.  I spent a LONG time cleaning the garage in order to make room for a project I've had my eye on for quiet a while.  The inside of our house doesn't lend the space that's needed for a mudroom area like I'd love to have.  So, we decided to make the best of our garage and create a "mudroom" in the space before you walk into our home.  In this picture in the bottom left, you can see just a taste of how out of sorts the garage was.  But, now we LOVE the space.  It's like a little bit of square footage added to our living area because it has turned out to be the mudroom we never had.  The top picture shows how it looks now...the same space where all the junk used to be. Let me brag really big husband built 98% of this all by himself!  He had a great friend come over and help him get the frame all squared up but he did all the rest. I gave him a picture from Pinterest and said, " this please."  He under estimated himself when he didn't think he could do it. I'm proud of him that he did.  (Don't tell him that he only proved how many other things he can do!) We still have to add one more hook to the far right cubby and do a tad bit of caulking but it is already a very functioning space. 

     You'd think after all of the above work I would let the poor guy rest.  BUT, he has just today completed yet another project from the "to-do" list.  And, it was yet another first for him.  He installed hardwood floors in our bedroom.  He did a fabulous job!  Tomorrow we get to move all the furniture back in and reap the full view of that DIY project.  But, I have no doubt it's gonna look great. One bedroom down and two more to go.  He is almost worn to a frazzle but much more confident in himself and his handyman skills than he was just a few weeks ago. 
       Thankfully, I have a hard working husband and a very supportive family that steps up to the plate working tirelessly for hours on end.  Without everyone working together my "to-do" list would still be sitting there because my budget wouldn't be able to afford the labor of getting it all to "complete".  
     We've made a huge dent in our list but stay tuned for Part Two of this post to see the rest of our work.  Don't forget that in the midst of all these chores, we've still been "bringing the farm to us".  Today we reached our record of three eggs in one day. We got two eggs yesterday.  We are well on the way to all seven of our current hens laying eggs.  And, in a few short weeks we will add several more chickens and five ducks to our backyard flock.  You guessed of the things reaching the top of the to-do list now is the construction of a duck house.  Not to mention getting ready for our garden. And, have I mentioned I'd like to learn to can??  Work on a homestead is never complete! 
THANK YOU to everyone who has helped!  It takes a village!! 



Sunday, March 3, 2013

ALMOST Homemade Orange Cinnamon Rolls

     Although it's nice to make things 100% from scratch, sometimes we have to find just a little bit of a short cut to help us out.  Not long ago I was watching The Pioneer Woman and she made homemade orange rolls.  I've been craving them every since.  They looked really tasty and eventually I will get around to making her recipe.  But today, I didn't have the time to make the dough and let it rise but I did have enough time to enjoy a few  minutes of baking.  I love to be in the kitchen and baking is one of my favorite hobbies. So I made ALMOST Homemade Orange Cinnamon Rolls.  Below you will see the steps I took and you'll quickly see the catch as to why these rolls are "almost homemade". 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and gather these ingredients:
~Crescent Rolls (2 big packages or 4 small packages)
~Orange Marmalade
~Brown Sugar
     Open the Crescent rolls and roll them out flat with a rolling pin. 

Once you've gotten a nice sized rectangular piece of dough, spread butter and marmalade all over the dough.  Then, sprinkle brown sugar all over the top. (A light covering of butter will do.  I learned, although I thought a thorough covering would be best, I think they will keep their shape better with a light coat.)

Next, roll the dough into a jelly roll shape, pinching the dough closed along the way.    Don't worry!  It's okay to get a little bit messy.

After the dough has been rolled up just right, slice it into cinnamon rolls and place onto a baking pan.

Place the rolls into the oven and bake for 12-14 minutes.  Remember, all ovens bake a little differently so keep an eye on your rolls and bake them until they are a nice golden brown.

While you are waiting for the rolls to bake, mix up the frosting.  You'll need these ingredients:
~Powdered Sugar...about 2 1/2 cups
~About 1/4 cup of milk
~1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
~1 teaspoon of pure vanilla flavoring
Adjust the ingredients to fit the consistency you like best. 
Mix the above frosting ingredients with a mixer until nice and smooth.
Pour over the orange cinnamon rolls.

Transfer them to your favorite serving platter and enjoy!
     This was a quick and easy way to make orange cinnamon rolls.  I took the shortcut by using the crescent rolls for the dough, thus the "almost homemade" part.  But, I added all the other ingredients from scratch and made a breakfast the family enjoyed.  PLUS, my daughters got to lend a helping hand.  It was a win-win.  I hope your family can benefit from this recipe.