Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Puzzling Puzzles and Storage Solutions...

One of the fun things about getting a home together is finding furniture. Or rather, dealing with your awkward mismatch of fun hand-me-down furniture! Trust me, I LOVE my hand-me-downs (Most especially because a lot of them are both very nice, and were very free!) but sometimes they make things like storage awkward. We work with what we have for the most part, and I'm constantly shifting things around the house, trying to get things set up the way I want. Here's a shot of our original dining room when we first moved in...

Ugh! That's not pretty! The table was a hand me down card table I got from my parents and two or three matching folding chairs. It shook horribly when you nudged it in the slightest, which made sit down meals a precarious thing! For Christmas that year my parents were kind enough to purchase us a proper dining room table...

Much better! When we ended up getting new desks for the computer room and a new TV stand, we managed to buy them (by accident, mind you!) in nearly the same color as the table, so we're starting to get somewhere! It's a color scheme!  

But here's the problem. There are several activities we do at the table. It's where we have our fancy meals, like for guests, or when we're eating something special. It's where we game at, things like board games and Magic: The Gathering.  And it's also where I do puzzles at when I'm of a mind too... And it neeeeds storage in there. This is what I managed today-

It's not pretty, but it works! For the last two weeks, the table has been covered in Magic cards, dice bags, and boxes, whilst the actual plastic storage bin we keep ALL the Magic stuff in has been sitting on the floor in the computer room. My puzzles had been shoved in the closet just to get them out of the way, but it made it annoying to fetch them out to use. Now at least, those boxes are in the corner here for easy access, right next to where we actually use these items at!

Matt and I both want to buy some sort of shelf unit to put against this wall for storage. But what to buy? A bookshelf? A cabinet? Should we keep the game type things here, or move the extra kitchen ware I have stored in the closets into a cabinet into the dining room and put the gaming stuff in the closets? Should we try and find something now, or just wait until we have a house first? Blargh!

Homemaking is hard!


Anyway, I  had decided I wanted to gather my puzzle things in the dining room so I'd have less issues getting to them to use. Before I had to dig the big box out of the closet just to see if the puzzle I wanted was in there. If it wasn't I had to look through all the closets in the house until I came across the storage tubes and the puzzle boxes. It made it obnoxious to find the one I wanted to work, and with them out of sight..... Well, they were out of mind as well, hence the not having worked on a puzzle in a year at least.

This is "Jack and the Beanstalk" a 1000 piece puzzle by Master Pieces. This thing is a dream to work on- the cardboard used is very thick, the pieces fit together smoothly, and the printing is clear and crisp with bright colors. I love a well made puzzle! I had a bit of a snafu when I was unrolling it. I started it to far down the table, underestimating how long the roll was, and the back end of the fabric and the inflatable tube (which had half the edge pieces stuck to it) went flying off the table! Oops.


In keeping with my working towards a better running home, after my trip to Half Price books a few weeks back, I decided it was time to reorganize the bookshelves! They were a jumbled mismatch of stuff books I'd half organized when we very first got moved in, and odds and ends that had ended up stuck on the bookshelf.

This is now my 'active reading/fantasy' bookshelf. All my favorite fantasy books are on here, which of course includes all the new books I just bought the other day. The bottom two shelves are a bit of a catch all. The last shelf slat is broken so you have to be careful about how you arrange things on it, and the lowest shelf is just too far down for me to want to put books on it until I have too.

And this shelf has become a bit of a catchall... Our D&D rule books, my R.A. Salvatore collection, manga and graphic novels, Matt's Stephen King books, over-sized and cook books. It's a bit of a jumble, but it looks way nicer now then it did before! I did have to move the little box full of cat nip toys and the 'cat fishing pole' to the other bookshelf though, as I came in the room one day to find Taco attempting to scale the shelves to get it...

You know, I think I'll just get a bookshelf in the dining room. Then I'll have en excuse to get more books to fill it!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Hot Pads, Books, and a Lovely Weekend!

Howdy all! Happy Monday! :D

Anyhoo, before I get to my fantastic weekend, I wanna get this little tidbit out of the way as I keep forgetting to post about it and I'm rather pleased with myself over it! A couple weeks ago, whilst doing folding the kitchen towels and putting them away, I was struck with an idea- I've got to move these darn hot pads! See, in one of the drawers in the kitchen, I keep all my hot pads and towels. But all the hot pads were all heaped on top of the towels making it really obnoxious to get them out... And seeing as I have a white wall in the kitchen that looked kind of drab...

Not really the decorations I was hoping for... I have some 'fat chef' paintings I want to put up, but they're rather heavy and I'm hesitant to go nailing things up to this wall when I don't know if there's a stud or not, and being a galley kitchen, I worry I'd back into them and knock them off the wall! But it keeps the hot pads closer to hand, and I can get my towels out of the drawer easier! Yay!

Anyway, onto the FANTASTIC WEEKEND! 

A week or so ago I got an email from Half Price Books with a coupon for 20% off my whole purchase! Cha-ching! I had just been browsing a few 'top twenty fantasy books' lists online, so the coupon came at just the right time- I jotted down a couple books I wanted. This was just after starting the first Wheel of Time book "The Eye of the World", and seeing as I've been enjoying it (Despite my sordid past with the Wheel of Time series) I wanted to make sure I got the second in the series as well.

So my weekend plans consisted of 'go to Half Price Books'- at least until I glanced at my phone and saw that it was my Grandmother's birthday this last Saturday! Omg! Friday night I told Matt that I needed to go to my grandparents house and the bookstore on Saturday. He looked at me and with that forced smile only a spouse who loves you can give said "Sure Babe. I'd love to go to the bookstore and such with you!"

"The book store sounds great..."

Needless to say I felt sort of bad making him spend his Saturday off browsing a used book store with me, and then going to see my grandparents... So Saturday morning, after getting out of the shower I offered that maybe he'd like to stay at home and play video games instead, since I'd be spending so much time at the bookstore... He agreed that perhaps this would be best!

So off I went to the bookstore! I found several of the books I needed, and even two bookmarks as well. Did you know that bookmarks there are only .49 cents? I love to collect bookmarks, but the nice ones to buy are often three or four dollars a piece, and I hate spending that much. But two for a dollar? I think I may end up buying one or two next time I drop in too!

My Bookmark hoard...

Anyhoo, I got a lot of the books on my list, but a few that I was looking forward too were not in the store, most notably the second Wheel of Time book. (I actually wasn't surprised about the WoT book, as the last of the series was -just- released and the Sci-fi/Fantasy book worlds been going a bit crazy!) So with mild disappointment I headed on to Walmart to buy some flowers for my Grandmother's birthday!

I'd texted my mom earlier in the week asking if they would be able to make it down this weekend, and what she thought I should get my Grams for her birthday, but they weren't able to come down at all, and I was met only with a *shrug* for my troubles. I've always been rather horrible at finding presents for people- I never know what they want! After wracking my brain I came up with the brilliant idea that my Grandmother loves flowers! Ha-HAH! No one else will have thought to get her those!

I arrived at my grandparents with my prize, walked in the door and- 


I'm sure you can tell which set of flowers were mine.... My parents, unable to come down, made up for it by sending that gorgeous arrangement! One uped! Curses! The flowers were both beautiful and my grandmother loved them. We went out to our family's favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner, and had a wonderful time together!

Matt and I spent the next morning and afternoon playing video games with friends. By late afternoon we were ready fora break, so I went and showered and we talked about what to do. "Well, they gave me back my coupon to Half Price Books... We could go up to the one in Edmond and see if they've got the second Wheel of Time book and the few others left on my list?" I said. Matt thought this over. "Sure, and we can stop by Best Buy and look around. Maybe get that remote to the PS3 we've been wanting and then something to eat!". And off we went!

As soon as we walked into Best Buy I made a beeline for the 3DS section. Even when I have no intention of getting anything, I like to see what they have available. And there it was- on sale for $19.99, half off!

ZOMG! This game came out last November, but we didn't really have the money for it when it released, and ever since then I've been passing it by in the store thinking "Hey, I really want this game! But.... eh, I don't wanna spend $40 on it right now." But for half off the brand new game! Heck yes! I snatched it off the shelf and ran around the corner to find Matt walking over with the $20 PS3 remote. We ended up picking up a 16GB flash drive for me as well as they were on sale for ten dollars. then headed up to the front, while Matt used his phone to spend some of our Bets Buy points to get us a coupon- which ended up being one for $50 off!

We get to the checkout counter and our total before tax comes out to be three cents less then $50, meaning we can't use the coupon at all. Drat. We regathered our stuff and headed back into the store. "Were there any other games you wanted?" Matt asked. "Not for the 3DS... Maybe they have a copy of Uncharted for the PS3? I've been wanting to try it." I replied. And they did- a two pack package of the first and second game for only $30. So we ended up spending about thirty two dollars total, but still, we got over $100 worth of merchandise for thirty bucks!

After that we headed to the other Half Price Bookstore, and happily, they had the second Wheel of Time and two of the other books I was looking for as well! So I managed to get 8 books and 2 bookmarks this weekend for only $28!

While we were there, I also traded the green bookmark for one without a messed up tassel. I didn't notice till I'd gotten back home on Saturday that the tassel on it was missing the tie off string... I'm not usually too very concerned with the tassels since they always fall apart eventually, but I didn't want to get one that was already on it's way to becoming a pile of useless strings!

Aren't they pretty? :D

After all the goodies we came away with (Or mostly -I- came away with, though Matt's been enjoying Uncharted) we finished off our wonderful weekend with dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Nothing like a juicy rare steak to make your evening tops!

So the weekend was nice, and I'm hoping to continue the trend this week! I'm loaded up on books, and 2 recently acquired video games and my art is going, somewhat slowly but surely so far! I'm going to try and hit it hard this week, get some things accomplished. I'll finish off this post with two photo's from my sketchbook- and you can see what else I've got posted at my deviant art page here: Brunn's DeviantART.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Celebrating the Superb Owl!

As I'm sure some of you are aware, today there was a sporting event of minor consequence- of which I cared absolutely nothing about! Really, I don't like football in the slightest, and don't even get me started on college sports (big waste of resources and money that should be spent on education and the arts). About the only sporting events I'll watch willingly are basketball and soccer, preferably the English Premier League.

But why waste a good excuse to cook delicious things? So from now on, I will be celebrating the Superb Owl on Superbowl Sunday!

I got out my 'new' cookbook to pick some recipes. You see, a week or so ago, I went and got all my old Food Network magazine and set about dismantling them, saving just the recipes I wanted. Once I'd salvaged everything, I put them all in plastic sheets in the binder where I keep all the recipes I print off the internet. Not only does it give a lot of color to my book, but it puts the recipes someplace where I can browse them without all the magazine adds! Anyway, after a bit of browsing, I stumbled upon these two recipes to give try:

A delicious chili and some tasty bread! Chili is a staple of Superb Owl Sunday after all. And yesterday I tried to make some fresh bread using a package of already mixed ingredients. I followed the recipe on the box exactly, but I guess the yeast never activated and it sat in the bowl like a lump of wet flour and refused to rise. So when I came across the bread recipe and realized I had everything I needed but for a packet of yeast, I decided to give it a try!

Here's the links to the two recipes I cooked today, both of them fantastic!

Off to Walmart I went, and picked up all the ingredients I needed. I think I managed to get the last bag of Fritos in all of Oklahoma! When I got home, I immediately started preparing the dough for the bread- only to realize I don't actually have any Rosemary for the rosemary bread. I had checked for all the other spices before going to the store but forgot to look for Rosemary; and when I thought about it in the store decided "Oh, I always have rosemary on hand, I don't need to buy any!" Hah!

I substituted in Oregano instead, and went along with it. Roll with the punches, right? Here's a shot of the dough rising in the bowl, having already doubled in size:

After getting the bread going and waiting a while for the dough to start rising, I began work on the chili. It was pretty darn simple, and smelled fantastic once everything started cooking. I was really excited for this one, as the only chili's I'd previously made involved seasoning packets of some sort, and hardly any vegetables. This one had corn, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes!

Once I got everything for the chili combined, I went to check the bread recipe again. I always, always read the recipe through before starting, because it's best not to be surprised in the midst of preparing a dish. But I had somehow managed to miss that after the first TWO HOUR rising time, I had to let them rise for a second two hours! Drat!

We ate our chili frito pies while the bread dough, newly formed into four little balls, rose a second time. The chili was spectacular, and I highly recommend the recipe. The corn and bell peppers really make it pop, at least compared to the other mostly meat and bean chili's I've had in the past. Plus it was super simple to make. Yum!

A while later, the breads finally finished. I had to bake them two at a time since our oven is rather small, and I spent the second batch's baking time dancing around the kitchen with glee at how great they turned out! Look at them! My very first, completely made from scratch yeast breads!

They were super duper tasty! I was a little disappointed in myself for not having the rosemary as the flavor was a little off from using a different herb, but it was still fantastic. I can't wait to try these again with the proper herbs, and a more practiced hand! Maybe I'll end up with more evenly sized and rounded loaves? I'm still beyond excited that my first attempt at a yeast bread from scratch came out so well! As my friend told me earlier: Achievement Unlocked!