Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I have been a busy little baker these last few days.  As per my to do list, I have baked Empire Cookies, Lemon Almond Cookies and Chocolate Chip cookies.  They are all sitting in the freezer waiting for the party!
I also made a wonderful batch of Banana Muffins for a church bake sale.  This past weekend I helped out at a church yard sale and bake sale that raised over $1000 dollars for Mwandi and a new playground at the church!  The bake sale alone raised $70 to purchase soccer balls for kids in Mwandi!  I donated the muffins, but the kids at our church ran the entire operation!
These were the best vegan muffins I have ever made!  They were light and fluffy and they rose so well.  Usually my muffins are pretty flat!  Unfortunately I can't find the recipe!  I have no recollection of where I found my inspiration or how much of any ingredient was used.  That just shows how crazy this week has been already.  I am so sad because these were very good. 

This may just be the most random post ever, as it is just a mix of everything I've done over the last few days, so bear with me as I segue from one topic to the next.

One of our biggest projects this weekend was refinishing the deck.  I came home from the yard/bake sale on Saturday to find Forbes bent over with just an electric sander.  He had only made it through about 6 boards and had been sanding for at least 3 hours.  It was time to bring in the big guns.
We rented this drum sander for just $50 and he was able to finish the job in less than 20 minutes.  I told him it was part of his birthday gift!
It is hard to tell in the photo above, but you can see the before and after.  Before (on the right) we had ugly orange stain that was splotchy and unattractive.  After (left), nice clean boards ready for a new coat of stain.
Here is the deck all sanded and ready for a coat of stain.  Originally we were going to go with a very dark brown, espresso colored stain.  I was avoiding anything with a tint of orange.  The last color scarred me for life.  Once the boards were brought back to life I was eager to keep the natural color of the wood so we chose a lighter stain and ended up with...


Well at least it is a smooth and nice looking orange.  It will work.  In another 3 years I will change the color again!

While I was out of the house Saturday morning, I drove past a few yard sales to find some patio furniture for the newly finished deck.  Basically all we had before were a few small folding chairs, an old rug, and our grill.  Ideally I would like to have a large patio table, but those are expensive.  As luck would have it, I found these two wicker chairs parked on the side of the road, facing a terminal sentence to the dump.
They don't look like much, but they held the promise of large, comfy seating...and they were free!

Forbes took the pressure washer to them and we set them in the sun to dry.
Later on Sunday I hit each chair with a couple cans of spray paint.  It took a lot of paint and a lot of time.  Wicker has all these layers and it is tedious work to fully cover it in paint.
I think the finished product is totally worth the time and the eight bucks I spent of spray paint.  Even if the paint is cheap and flecks off, I can put another coat on next year!  Now I am just on the look out for cheap cushions and this project will be finished! 
These chairs were an excellent find, and I am guessing after the cushions I will have spent just under $30 a chair!  Not a bad deal at all!

The deck and chairs looked so nice, it was putting the deck lighting and door trim to shame.

Old light:
New Light.
 Love, love this new light and it was under $20 at Lowe's! I think it fits our eclectic style very nicely.

We are opting to put PVC no-rot trim around the sliding glass doors.  The wood trim that is on now has seen better days.  That is one of our projects for this evening.  As well as mow the yard, find chair cushions, and shampoo the carpets.  The list doesn't seem to be getting any shorter.
Luckily for us the biggest project, the deck, is finished.  We had so much help this weekend.  It was such a blessing.  Forbes and his buddies knocked it out in less than 8 hours of total work time.  Of course it cost us a small fortune in liquid fuel to get it done:
Even I partook in the afternoon liquid refreshment, something I haven't done since probably last summer!
What can I say, slaving away in the kitchen really makes me thirsty!
Wait! Let's be honest...there will be no more slaving now that I have this bad boy.  The bread maker rocks!  I poured in my ingredients at 10pm at night.  The next morning, a fresh loaf of bread was waiting for me.  Magic!

And while we are on random topics, I feel compelled to share with you the chocolate milkshake I drank for breakfast yesterday.  Forbes and I babysat/dogsat/catsat/kittensat/housesat on Monday and Tuesday.  The boss lady had some Chocolate Soy Milk in the fridge so I concocted this beast with bananas, oatmeal and peanut butter.   Plus a few ice cubes.
And here is your cuteness for the week:
While Susan and Dr. Russ were out of town, and I was watching the house/animals/children a stray cat decided to have her litter on their front porch!  What do I know about kittens? Luckily the mama cat knows enough to take care of her own, and I know enough to stay away.  She was actually giving birth when I brought the kids home from school on Monday.  Two kittens turned into four, right before our very eyes!  Now I am not a huge fan of cats, but seeing these cuties made me smile!  Of course we will be looking for good homes for these little ones soon.  Let me know if you are interested!

So party prep week is fully underway, and if you cannot tell I am a busy ball of nerves and energy and excitement.  Unfortunately my food to-do list isn't getting done as quickly as I would like.  I am nervous to make too much in advance and it not be as good on Saturday.  I have all the baking done, but I am holding out until tomorrow morning to make all the salads.  I think that I will start at 5am with an estimated time of finishing at noon.  Then I will take Forbes out for a birthday fiesta lunch and hopefully we can knock out the rest of our to-do list Thursday night.  All of our guests arrive Friday morning...can't believe how quickly this week is flying by!

And back to the subject of patio furniture.  We got on the topic of tables and decided how outrageous it was to spend $500-$1000 on one.  Forbes told me they had a picnic table when he was a kid and how much he loved it.  I also had a picnic table and I loved it!  We checked one out at Lowe's and they are only $80!  No wonder both of our dads opted for picnic tables instead of patio furniture!  Cheap seating for plenty!  I think we are going to get one and paint it bright red!  But not this week.  We have too many projects already!

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