Granola-making central - I finally bought some pretty jars instead of leaving the bags of oatmeal, etc., on my counter.
In the "My Mind, I Miss It" news, I want to tell you about my complete failure at making granola lately. I've been making this stuff for just about a year now on a regular basis...I don't even need to look at the recipe anymore, I make it that often. So imagine my surprise last week when I burned the batch I was making. What happened? I normally bake it for a total of 30 minutes, stirring after every 10 minutes. At the 20 minute mark, it was dark brown. Thought I would be able to live with it, but no...it was just too burned for my taste. I went to the store and replenished my ingredients, and made another batch. This time? Incinerated it. What was happening?!? Not only was I frustrated at wrecking two batches of granola, I was getting mad at the waste of money - it's not super expensive, but it IS if you make it inedible! After I calmed down, I got out the recipe to double-check it and try again. First thing I read: preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Which I was doing...oh wait. I had it at 400. Well. That would explain it.
In related news, roasted carrots, which are amazing, go in a 400 degree oven.
And if this is what I'm like now, I pity my future caretakers.
This summer, we will have Jeff's car paid off - the plan was to then replace my 10-year-old Explorer, which is definitely showing its age, with a new car...preferably a Mini Cooper. I can't help it - I think they are just so cute, and after years of driving a big vehicle (this Explorer is our third one, so you can see that I've been in a big car for a long time), I'm ready for a sporty car. However, the Minis are a tad more expensive than the Fords that we've been driving. So we decided to hold off for another year and put what we have been spending on the monthly car payment toward a down payment on the Mini. Fiscally responsible, right?
Well. We started chatting about all the things we could do with that money - new carpet, a couple of small trips (canoe for Jeff, back east for me), getting to Maui in January '13 so Jeff can run the Maui half marathon...long story short (and really, the story of our lives) - we manage to spend extra money 10 times over! But we came up with a solution:
A lottery ticket, once a week, for the next year. SURELY we'll win enough for everything and the car, right?!? (btw, this one? not a winner.)
These aren't the greatest pictures because I was trying to hurry before Paco realized what I was doing (and then scare the squirrel away, which he did about three seconds later), but this squirrel was rapidly shoving leaves into his mouth, and then ran up the tree with them. Building a nest up high? I never realized that they did this!
Squirrels - endless source of entertainment for both me and Paco!
I mentioned last week that we inadvertently redecorated our family room. The story behind that is that for Christmas, our kids gave us money toward buying a new flat-screen TV - we still had an old boxy one, and they thought we should join the 21st century. We found one that wasn't too expensive (since we still had to make up the balance) and bought it. Put it on our old TV stand (which actually was Sam's from when he was in high school) and saw that it was too wide. So after our visit with Debby last month, we went Ikea to look for a bigger TV stand...and got inspired to redo the room, especially when we realized that the stuff we were looking at wasn't that expensive (it's Ikea, after all), and with all the hours I'd worked at my seasonal job, we had the money for it. We sketched out a couple of floorplan ideas, bought two chairs and brought them home, measured the room to be sure the wall system we were looking at would fit, drove to a different Ikea (Round Rock) to get the couch and a small table, painted the room, then went to the Frisco Ikea last weekend to get the wall system. (As an FYI, there are three Ikea's in the state of Texas and we've now been to all of them.)
This room has been a hard one to place furniture in - it has a big fireplace, a really high wall, a wall of windows, and is open to the kitchen. We looked at doing a wall system when we first moved in, but they ran around $2000 - and we still would have needed more furniture to finish the room. So we sort of piecemealed it over the years - it was never anything that we were particularly thrilled with, but that room just wasn't a priority. Heck, we didn't even have window coverings! It's kind of embarrassing, but over time, it was easy to ignore. But now, we are really pleased with how the room looks - about time, as we've lived in this house for over 11 years!
Here's what we did:
The chairs and loveseat are new; the round table between the chairs was my nightstand, and we've had the other round table for a while, too. All from Ikea.
The windows are wider than standard, which is why I never spent the money to cover them - even a simple curtain rod was super-expensive. But Ikea has this nifty wire system for around $13, and these curtains were only $15 for the pair. I like how it finishes the window. BTW, my mom (and probably Debby) would be horrified to know that these curtains come really long so you can hem them to your desired length...with iron-on hem tape. Worked perfectly for me, but I imagine others might cringe at this method.
Love seat by Ikea, pillow by Target. Hey, we spread the love! I like this shot because you can see the kitchen table (which we bought when Max moved out in 2008) - this entire area feels much lighter and more airy now.
The TV that started it all, and the wall system - actually, it's the Billy bookcases, with doors. There is room for all of our DVDs in the TV stand (only filled up one drawer - granted, we don't have a ton, but still, it held more than I thought), and lots of space for books in the lower halves of the bookcases.
The reading corner (because that's the only place with a lamp, lol) - the top lifts off the square table and I have our extra throws inside.
Love how the large painting looks with the more neutral wall color - it used to be purple. Jeff thinks we need something hanging in the space above the TV...I've thought about doing some photos on canvas with the pets. Still not sure what I'm going to do there. And maybe we should get a large planter/plant to go in front of the outlet on the wall next to the fireplace? Plus, of course, I need more stuff in the display case. While I have a lot, it turns out that most of my things are on a smaller scale and "disappeared" when I put them on the shelves. No rush - finding things will be part of the fun!
Hard to believe that we had no intention of doing anything like this a month ago, but this is pretty much how we roll...random and a bit impulsive. Oh, in case you've forgotten, here's an outtake from a pretty recent Fashion Friday shot to refresh your memory of the room:
Normally we don't have folding lawn chairs in the family room, but Jeff likes to bring them in when the kids come home...hopefully NOW he won't feel the need to do that.
Have a great weekend!