Thursday, January 31, 2013

Library Bookcase Update

We are making progress.
Last week Lee got the bar mounted and the shelves up, then we had the busiest Saturday ever, followed by the laziest Sunday ever so we made very little progress last weekend.

We did manage to get all of the books up on the wall and add some accessories.
The plan is this weekend to add the crown on the top, and a new thick stained wood top on the lower case. We think we can get it all done this weekend, it might involve copious amounts of coffee but it should be done! Well everything except the rolling ladder. That will be done some time in February.

Hopefully Monday we have some amazing photos to share!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mustache Cake

First "I Mustache you a question."
What kind of cake do you make for a 37th Birthday Party????
A Mustache Cake, of course.

It was so so easy and you don't need a mustache cake pan just a regular old round cake pan. I just used a simple white cake recipe, and made two 8" round cakes. I stacked one cake on top of the other with a layer of SUPER FRUIT jam from Trader Joe's. Then I followed Spooniest's directions on cutting the cakes, it's basically a Ying and Yang shape.

Super easy, super cute! Two of my favorite things. Three of my favorite things if you include cake!
 One thing that was NOT easy was Icing this bad boy. As hard as I tried there was still some icing smeared on the marble slab, and smoothing out the icing was almost impossible. But it tasted amazing so all cosmetic imperfections were forgiven!

So Happy Birthday to an wonderful man, a thoughtful husband, a loving puppy daddy, and an overall amazing human being! 

Be back tomorrow with some Bookcase updates!!! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Orange Pillow

First off, sorry for the lack of posts last week . . . it was a crazy week. We'll be back with more posts this week!!! :) 

Now on to today's post which was almost titled "Darn Homesense" I should be banned. In fact Lee should ban me. I went in to pick up one little item for our new bookshelves in the library and this orange beauty was sitting there. Starring at me with it's tempting $10 price tag.
I never pegged myself as an orange girl, but I loved this pillow. I had never seen one where there were tiny folds all along the front! It kind of reminded me of tile (I don't know why?).
(Ignore the little doggy face poking out)
Because our living room is SO neutral it was super easy to fit in a colored pillow or two. I don't know if I will be able to fully commit to the orange but I'll give it a fair try. So far I'm in love with it (I'm still not sure if it's new relationship love or if it's long lasting Notebook love). Once I've figured out if this love is meant to last I'll be willing to invest a little more into the 'relationship' and add a throw blanket in orange, or some candle sticks in orange as well. But for now some Orange-ish tulips will do. Wow, this might be a relationship if I bought our new orange pillow flowers already! ;)

But even if we don't stick with the orange accent, the feather pillow insert alone was worth the $10.

So are you Orange with envy over our new orange pillow?? haha ;)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Big Library Project: The Before looks better than the after

We are at the stage in our project where the before looks better than the after but we're pushing through! ;)
I am so excited about this project, it's one of those "Dream Home" projects I talk about. I had a list of things I would want in my dream home and this project is on the list (like our bedroom fireplace).

We are building a super tall bookcase with a rolling ladder!!!! AAaaaahhhh!!!!! I am so excited.

We have fully run out of room for all of our books, my first instinct was to sort through and donate the ones I've already read but 90% of our books are non-fiction and I bought them because they were great reference books. So I really wanted to keep 90% of them. We donated 10% of them, mostly fiction or outdated non-fiction (books that still had countries like Czechoslovakia and referred to Bush as the current president, I'm talking the first president Bush).  Then we started planning.
We knew we had to go vertical, but how to do it safely???
Bookcases fixed to the wall wouldn't be rated to support the weight of so many books.
Long selves would be good but not the look I was going for.
Then like a big old Oprah Ah-Ha moment I thought, kitchen cabinets hold lots of weight and they don't fall off the wall!!! The skies opened up and the sun shined down on us and I saw an IKEA sign! haha
Ikea's wall cabinets are rated to hold 297 lbs of weight, that's over 400 dishes. SOLD.
We bought three 36" by 39" wall cabinets from Ikea, without door fronts. $204 later and we were set. 1. First Lee assembled the three cabinets.
2. Next Lee Hung the mounting rail. Just find some studs and screw them in with BIG HUGE SCREWS!
3. Lift big cabinet frame up an even bigger ladder while trying not to die. 
4. Attach cabinet to rail (Lee reports that it was super easy).
5. Repeat 2 more times . . . Done! After the cabinets were assembled it took just under an hour! As you can see the sun was going down and ruining my perfect picture lighting!!
So there we are, cabinets are up. Next step is to add, crown molding and a top, to the top of the cabinets. After that we'll be adding a new distressed wood top to the bottom bookcases. It's looking a little 'light' down there so a big wood top should bring the weight and focus back down. And last will be to weld up a rail and a ladder so we can reach all of our books!

It will still be a month or two before we are done but I am so excited already! It's the coolest thing to see when you walk through the front door!!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Don't have a cow.

errrrr . . . I meant DO have a cow! ;)

I'm about to share with you the reason our big library project was delayed by 1 month (more on that at the end of the post). It's cute, it's brindle and it's lying on our living room floor . . . that's right, yet another living room rug.
(I also totally realize that it looks like I designed a room based on the color of my dog, but you'd be wrong, I picked the dog to match my room . . . just kidding.) 

You've seen our first attempt at layering rugs, our second attempt with a red rug was nice but still didn't ring my bell. But I think we hit the nail on the head with this one, a cow hide rug!
It was always my plan to find a hide rug for the living room but I was convinced I couldn't find one in our price range, so I went ahead with plan B and picked out another rug. But Murphy (as in Murphy's Law) had other plans, not 2 months after we bought our new ikea rug I found this amazing hide at Homesense for $160!!!!! Seriously, an unheard of price.
I was still ready to walk away but with some coaxing from my mom I brought it home to "try out" and well the rest is history!
Seriously, Max looks like an accessory he matches so well! haha

A few new pillows, and the look is complete . . . for now ;).
I Hope you like it as much as we do! I think the moral of today's story is Cow hide rugs are awesome and never settle, wait it out for what you really want!

As for our BIG library project . . . I transferred the money we had set aside for the library to buy the hide so we had to wait another month to build up the "library project fund". We actually just started on it this weekend so check back later this week for an update!! All I'll say now is it's BIG (15 feet tall big!). 

We would love to know what you think. Now that we've shared 3 different living room rugs, what do you think??? Cow hide, Red Rug, Brown Rug, or no layering of rugs at all??? 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Library Painting

I was so excited to be able to incorporate this oil painting into our library. It holds a special place in my heart. My Great Grandmother was a tough farm lady. That's the only way I can think to describe her. Here's a picture of her and my Great Grandfather on the job at the cannery.
They lived way out in the sticks . . . I mean only accessible by boat, way out! I don't remember her house well, but I do remember the view from the house to the water, mostly because of this painting.
I believe it was painted by a neighbor of my Grannies. The painting is in rough shape but I love it so much it could be ripped in half and colored on and I would still hang it. Maybe one day we'll take it to be fully restored but for right now I kind of like the patina!! ;)

I framed it up using an old broken Ikea ribba frame. We broke the glass in the frame when we moved 2 Octobers ago! But I kept the frame around and I am so glad I did . . . it was perfect! It fits seamlessly in our library with our other artwork.
I love this little painting. We've been meaning to add more one of a kind pieces to our home and this definitely fits the bill. And the best part is I feel there's a little piece of my great grandmother in our home now!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Anniversary Part 2

Man oh man . . . that man of mine!
A few weeks ago we were in the city and I convinced Lee to take me to anthropologie and west elm before we went to dinner . . . just to look around. And I did just that, look around. I didn't buy one thing. I walked out slightly sad but very proud of myself. Fast forward a couple weeks and Lee surprised me with the 3 amazing pieces I reluctantly left behind at Anthropologie!
First was this little aqua vase:
Second is this Darling Dachshund tea towel. I Love little Dachshunds!
and last is the this little jewelry holder, under glass, in the shape of a wishbone.
"For all our wishes that have been fullfilled and the ones still to come."
Anniversaries are Awesome!!!!

But after 7 years of marriage I would have to say that the most important part isn't the BIG gestures, it's not romantic rides in hot air balloons, or being showered with gifts or diamonds, it's all about the small! It's a midday call from the office to say HI, it's getting up in the middle of the night to let the dog outside, it's quietly doing the dishes after dinner, or pulling the pickle out of your burger even though you like pickles but you know your wife loves them more. It's giving up the last cookie and pretending you didn't even want it in the first place. Mother Teresa said "Do small things with great Love." Lee certainly does just that. I don't think he's had the last cookie in at least 7 years ;).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Books, Books, Everywhere!

It's been 7 years and I'm not itchy at all!!! (get it, the 7 year itch??)

That's right it's been 7 years since we said I DO! And we are more in love than ever . . . well I am anyways . . . I don't want to speak for Lee but I think he'd agree!
I was down right spoiled rotten this year, usually we decide on a gift for both of us . . . almost exclusively it's something for the house. For 5 years it was our wood dining table (for the traditional wood gift) and 6 years it was our pots and pans organizer (iron is traditional so we did a spin on that). 7 years was copper or wool. I didn't want anything copper . . . but a warm wool blanket would be nice??? Cashmere is a type of wool . . . right??? hehe
We still haven't gotten around to purchasing our mutual gift but Lee did sneak in a couple of very sweet gifts for me!

The first was a stamp I've been wanting forever!
With so many books in our little library and so many friends and family members with similar reading tastes I'm always lending out books I wanted to make sure that our books get returned to us, so Lee picked me up a book stamp. It says Ex Libris (which is Latin for "from [the] books", which when used as a bookplate means "from [the] books [owner]") and in true anniversary style he chose "Mrs. Malinek".
It's perfect! I couldn't love it anymore! He gave it to me before he headed to work and came home to THIS:
(That top stack I'm staring at fell down on me seconds after this picture!)

I stamped every book in our library. I thought about only stamping the books that get lent out . . . but how do you know which books people are going to want to borrow?? and stamping a big MINE on a book, right in front of someone before they take it home just seems in poor taste! Kind of like, "I don't believe you'll return this to me so I'm going to make sure you don't forget!" So I just bit the bullet and stamped them all in one big go . . . although I still haven't made my way into the kitchen to stamp all the cookbooks!
I'll share my other two gifts tomorrow!!! All I can say now is Anthropologie! (and I still can't imagine Lee in that store all by himself!) haha

Ex Libris stamp is from Holmes Stamp . . . Lee said they were really helpful and even emailed a mock-up of the stamp so Lee could see how it looked before they made it!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Grocery Store Decor

If you live up here in Canada you'll have heard of The Real Canadian Superstore. It's kind of like a slightly fancier (more food based) Walmart! Actually, the best way to describe it would probably be a cross between, a regular grocery store, a walmart and a target!
Lee did a quick grocery run on the weekend when we ran out of milk and came back with a little $7 bouquet!
And the reason I'm bringing up Superstore is because the little jug the flowers are in is also from Superstore! As well as a million other things you've seen around our manor (the stove top tray, the bathroom tray, a bunch of dishware, our coffee mugs, etc. . . ).
Gotta Love some Grocery Store Decor! and a thoughtful husband!  :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

This post has EVERYTHING!

Normally I wouldn't make such a BOLD statement on the blog. But this post might embody all that Mini Manor is about. It has organization, it has DIY, it incorporates cooking, and it saves money. (I am trying to figure out a way for this project to be considered green, but I haven't been able to come up with one yet.)
I started making my own seasoning blends . . . things like Taco Seasoning and Cajun spice, even seasoning salt and curry powder. The pre-made store bought seasoning packets are FULL of extra sodium and other weird preservatives.
I started to make my own, only putting in the necessary salt and no extra preservatives. The mixes last approx 6 months in the cupboard (not quite as long as the store bought ones but still a respectable shelf life). And honestly they taste way Better!!!!
 Taco Seasoning: 
8 tbsp Chili Powder
4 tbsp Onion Powder
2 1/2 tbsp Cumin
2 1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder
2 1/2  tbsp Paprika
2 1/2 tbsp Oregano
2 1/2 tbsp Sugar 
1 tbsp Kosher Salt
This makes more than enough to last us 6 months. 

Montreal Steak Spice: The only thing we put on our steaks
 2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons crushed black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon crushed coriander
1 tablespoon dill
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes 
* Recipe from Here

Italian Seasoning: 
6 tbsp Dried Basil
2 tbsp Dried Parsley
3 tbsp Dried Oregano
2 tbsp Dried Rosemary
2 tbsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Dried Garlic

Seasoning Salt: 
6 tbsp Salt
1/2 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Marjoram 
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Dried Mustard
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1/8 tsp Dried Dill
1/2 tsp Celery Salt

Curry Powder: 
If you are going to make your own curry powder this takes some dedication because there are a lot of ingredients to buy. It's best to get a group of friends together and each make a batch. Otherwise it's a lot of money to put out at the beginning (unless you already own these spices).
1/4 cup Ground Coriander
2 tbsp Ground Turmeric
2 tsp Ground Cumin
2 tsp Ground Ginger
2 tsp Ground Allspice
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon 
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Creole Seasoning: 
1/4 cup Ground Cayenne Pepper 
1/4 cup +1 tsp Kosher Salt
2 tbsp Garlic Powder
2 tbsp Onion Powder
2 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tbsp Ground Black Pepper

Last is my recipe for a Veggie Dill Dip, I make this dip a lot so I mix the ingredients up and keep them ready at hand: 
3 Tbsp Dried Parsley
3 Tbsp Minced Dried Onion
1 tsp Dried Dill
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Seasoning salt
To make dip: Take 3 tbsp + 1 tsp and mix it with 1 cup sour cream, 1 cup mayo and 1 tsp fresh lemon juice. Keep in the Fridge for 2 to 4 hours then serve!

Those are the recipes I've made and tweaked and made again ;). You'll definitely have to adjust them to your own taste. We like spicy food so if you don't . . . you might want to watch the cayenne pepper! 
Next on my Spice to do list will be to make my own Chili Powder . . . it's a little more work because you have to buy dried chilies and grind them up yourself, but with the amount of Vegetarian Chili we make around here I think the effort will be well worth it.

I will add, that the one down side to making your own mixes is that you have to buy all the ingredients, all of the powders and original spices. But what I will say is that you use many of the ingredients in multiple recipes and when you are buying 'pure' spices like cayenne pepper and onion/garlic powder they are just what they say they are (there shouldn't be any other ingredients added to them). We store our ingredients in containers in our Spice Cabinet right beside the stove.
 We also store our Oils and Vinegars in the same cabinet.

And we store the seasoning mixes like Taco, Cajun etc . . . on the door in glass jars with snap lids!  There it is Spice Cupboard revealed . . . with recipes! ;)
It's a win win win, they taste better, they are better for you and they save you money, compared to buying pre made mixes you are spending Pennies instead of Dollars! 

Does anyone have a spice mix recipe I'm missing or maybe one that's better??? I would LOVE to hear it!!!!! 

*The plastic containers the cupboard are from Ikea and are the perfect size for Spices and the glass jars on the door are from Dollarama!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pet Drawer

It's not pretty . . . but it's a very necessary part of our house. It's amazing how much stuff a 5 lb dog and a bird that weighs less than an ounce need, but there you have it.
We use to throw all our pet stuff in the drawer, it was a big 'ol mess.
It was definitely time to conquer and organize. Some round plastic containers from the dollar store, a big rubbermaid container, a couple of oxo containers and we had organized chaos!
1) For all of Carson's different types of seed, I used a label maker to mark each container, and if the seed needed instructions I wrote those on the label maker, and stuck those on the lid too.
2) The Rubbermaid container holds Corn Cobb bedding for the bottom of Carson's cage. We made sure to get a container that fits a full bag of bedding!!
3) The oxo containers are for Max. The big one holds his teeny tiny kibble, and the small one holds his treats.
4) The two small boxes on the right hold Max's dishes and his travel water bottle.

So it's nothing super pretty but it is super functional! Originally we stored the bird seed and bedding in the library where the bird cage is, but every time we cleaned the cage we would have to drag it into the kitchen, so it just made more sense to store it in there!
I wanted to tackle this project first thing this year, it definitely simplified our cage cleaning routine! Not to mention it's much better to look at than a bunch of half empty bags rolling around in a drawer!

I've shown you mine, I'd love to know where you store your pet necessities!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Stove Top Organization

In case you were mislead by the title of this post. This is a post on how I organized the top of our stove (or more specifically the side of our stove), not how I organized a collection of Stove Top Stuffing ;).

I don't want to make sweeping statements like "we all have too many spoons" or "I bet you're like me and have too much stuff beside your stove" but I will say, WE keep too much stuff on the counter beside our stove. A container so full of utensils I can't fit another one in , a pepper grinder, a salt grinder, a salt hog, multiple bottles of oil.
So as part of my New Year's Resolution to simplify, I simplified beside my stove.
First I got rid of all the utensils in the container that I don't use. A rusty pair of BBQ tongs, a bunch of plastic spoons (I'm hoping to make the switch to all wood spoons), a giant ladle I never use because it's huge (it's like a bowl on the end of a stick) and a really ugly whisk (I already have a nice one, how many whisks does one girl need?). Now we have TONS of room in the container.
I had both a salt grinder and a salt hog, I didn't need both. I knew I wanted to keep the pepper grinder because fresh ground pepper is great, but I always used the salt hog over the salt grinder. So OUT went the salt grinder.

 And I finally picked up some bottles to decant my Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil and Sesame Oil into. I picked up these small bottles with spouts from Homegoods. I made sure to get small bottles because Oil stays best in darker tinted bottles and can go rancid in clear glass bottles (it takes a while but it can happen). So I made sure to buy small bottles so that we can use up the oil in each bottle before it goes bad!
And I placed it all on this tray from The Real Canadian Superstore. I love a round porcelain tray!!! This way if a little oil drips down, the tray will catch it and it won't sit on our granite counters and make a big oil stain!!
Time: 10 minutes
Cost: $10 for round porcelain tray
Value: Priceless ;) haha But it really is nice to pull out your whisk and not have 5 other items come out with it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!!!!

I LOVE January 1st! LOVE it! On December 31st I really do believe that I could accomplish anything the next year. So in 2013 I will become a doctor/ astronaut!
But aside from my doctor/ astronaut career goals, I thought I'd share how we did on last years resolutions. As well as some of our resolutions for this year!!!

2012: 
1) Save more Money this year. 
Check!
2) Put more effort into my everyday wardrobe.
Definitely made progress, but still a little ways to go.
3) Make Lee's lunches more interesting.
Check.
4) Try more new recipes.
Super Check. 
5) Wake up earlier.
We were on a really good roll by November (a 5am wake up roll). But December threw us all off schedule. So we'll have to re-start that!
6) Travel More.
We didn't really accomplish this one . . . so we'll move it to this year. 
7) Finally make a decision about expanding our little family!
Almost there (decision wise). 
8) Be Greener.
We definitely accomplished that in our home. No chemical fertilizers on the lawn, Low VOC paints, composting, recycling, making our own cleaners, etc. . . 
9) Celebrate Bigger
We definitely made an effort to celebrate bigger! Lee's Birthday was a big celebration, and we actually went out on Valentine's Day this year ;) 
10) Dedicate more time to the blog
I didn't get to spend as much time as I would like . . . but definitely more time than 2011! 

This year I have only ONE resolution . . .

SIMPLIFY

I know it sounds like a bit of a vague, all encompassing resolution. But it's based on what we need in 2013. 2012 was Crazy!!! Lee was super busy at work this year! We decided to share a car to be greener and to save extra money in 2012. While it was greener, and it did save us money . . . it ate up all our free time! I would have to run all of our errands between 7 and 9pm. Things I would normally handle during the day while Lee was at work, I had to do in the evenings. The cost benefit wasn't worth the time loss. So we are searching for a second car. Sometimes simplifying doesn't mean cutting out, but adding. 
I want to simplify my blog routine, my cleaning routine, our kitchen cupboards . . . the storage under the stairs, the garage. I want get rid of anything that we don't need, pick up anything we do. Grow closer to friends. Finally nail down a personal style for my wardrobe. I still can't resist a puffy skirt although it sits unworn in my closet, while I've worn holes through my one pair of skinny jeans. 

Generally I want to feel on top of it all! Many who are older and wiser than I am, would tell me that you can never be on top of it all, but trying doesn't hurt. :)
So there it is, I want to simplify so that I can stay on top of it all.  ;)

2013 Project: This year I want to take a picture a day. Just something everyday, I'll share them on Fridays and Saturday's each week! I am guilty of only taking pictures of the good, but I think a little impromptu photography would be a nice change. :)

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