Saturday, October 20, 2012

Our new playhouse bed!

The inspiration for our playhouse bed

Between our first visit to the life-size doll house at the Oak Ridge Children's Museum and seeing the above cool house bed on Facebook (and later on Pinterest), we made up our mind on this one a long time ago.

Our kid would have one! The moment we won the bid on our home purchase, the idea gears were in full motion. We knew the room to hold it would be large enough (not some small attic room with a half wall, in other words), so about a week before we closed the deal, hubby began what is in my opinion--his best project of all time!

We wanted it to be fully functional both upstairs and downstairs and also fit a double/standard size mattress. We drew out some simple plans, purchased supplies and began in my parent's garage. Then, we disassembled and reassembled it in her new room. A couple coats of paint and a little decor were all we needed after that.

And so, without further adieu, here's the story... in photos:


Little helper

Reassembly and painting begun

Little helper again

Finishing touches

Completed bedhouse!

View of upstairs

Side view with ladder

Cat on the roof--what a perk!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Typical Errand Involving Junk Food

Does anyone else have trouble not picking up junk food when you make a quick trip to the grocery store? I sometimes eat something I'd not eat otherwise except for there it is staring at me in the check-out line at Kroger. It says to me, "Oh, come on, just this once!"

For my husband, it's Reece Cups. My kryptonite? Chocolate-iced doughnuts, but let's not even discuss how I eat those until I make myself sick.

Today, he came home from Kroger with peanut butter cups that claim to have no GMOs, partially hydrogenated oils, preservatives, artificial ingredients or corn syrup. Read about it here:

They were right in the check out lane at Kroger and from their Website, they appear to be at a good many stores already. Try them out. Next time those shall-not-be-named peanuts & chocolate bars call out to me, I'm going to try the UNREAL version instead.

Learning to Make Bread

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to attend a bread making class with a friend of mine. Her friend Rena of The Royal Slice of Bread blog put on the class, which was basically a trial run for teaching bread-making classes in the future, which she hopes to do. Her post about the class.

It went great! Though I grew up watching my mother make bread, I never really learned the process. I saw it, but I didn't internalize it, memorize it. I also watched mom make pie crust, but even with her recipe, mine were awful. But, back to bread. Another reason I didn't learn bread-making is because as time went on, my mom no longer made bread very often. When she did, it was a special, yummy treat!

And so I jumped at the chance to attend the class. After I left, I was eager to try my skills, and here's how my first try at home went. (By the way, I'm a visual learner if you can't tell.)

The dough after kneading

The best part has got to be watching dough double its size. Seems like some kind of  supernatural  power.

After I'd already kneaded, I decided to make one loaf into cinnamon-raisin bread, so I kinda rolled them in the best I could before putting the bread in pans.

My loaf pans are undersized, so...

After their second rise. The one on the left was so high I had to punch it down a bit before baking.

All done! They looked wonderful, but did they taste wonderful?

Indeed they did! 

I prefer the taste of whole wheat for most bread, but I didn't have any whole wheat flour, so for these loaves pictured I used King Arthur's white whole wheat which yielded a lighter taster than my preference.

I'm excited to have learned something and am going to keep on practicing and making my own bread as much as possible! If you're interested in one of Rena's classes, contact her via her blog or The Royal Slice of Bread on Facebook.

And finally, if making bread isn't your thing, you can still get excellent bread at a great price at Old Mill bread Company or at Kroger stores that carry their bread.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Just like her mom

In working on a different look for the blog, I've loaded tons of new pictures for the side bar.  Some of the things might be familiar but others are things I hope to blog about in the future.

I'm still not finished with labeling them as I'd like to, but at least they are here.

A sampling:

At Cruze Farm's corn maze last fall, a mini paradise.

My cat and most recent painting in progress. A gift for my husband for our recent twelve year anniversary.

My dogs, one boy and one girl, always moving. Getting a picture of them is nearly impossible. 

Just like mom! Rescuing an earthworm who'd found itself in bad spot.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A new home for earrings

Earrings, bracelets and necklaces at my casa now have a new home. It's yet another hubby project--completed! After seeing so many cool ideas for storing jewelry on Pinterest, I felt it was time to free my earrings from their fishing tackle box prisons. The tackle boxes I used were great for years, but they don't work at all in my new bathroom because there's not enough counter space or storage.

Another problem was that I'd often long neglect pairs that got hidden or were oddly shaped and not with the others. Finally, most of the ideas I'd been seeing were made from old picture frames and were much too small. I wanted something much larger that would hold all I have now and hopefully all the earrings I'd ever have or ever want. At first I thought I could divide and conquer the task myself, but after discussing it with hubby, we realized it'd take both of us (ok, so basically just him).

First, we worked out a "plan" for what I wanted. It took a while to figure out how to make it work.  The supplies were very cheap.  Basically a couple of trim boards, some hooks, hardware and a roll of screen from The Home Depot. (see above)

"B" (hubby) cut angles on the trim.

B used both hardware and wood glue on the corners. (see above)

Daughter helped. (note my wall hen decal--purchased off Etsy, love it!) We let it dry until the next day. (See above)

And of course The Cat helped. I used a little acrylic paint and water to make a wash for the wood. No reason really, just seemed like the fastest and easiest way to get it done.

Time to attach the screen! Seemed like it would be easy, but even with two people, it was a real challenge trying to hold the screen tight enough while also stapling it. You don't want the screen to sag when finished.

Here's what it looked like close up. (see above) But, the staples will be covered with an inside trim piece.

It was then time to cut more angles for the inside trim pieces. My new counter-top has taken a beating already!

And here's the first of the four inside trim pieces (bottom of the top edge) that went along the inside edge of the frame and performed two purposes: hiding the staples and tightening the screen even more than with just staples.

Daughter was THRILLED to finally be able to "play" with mama's earrings and have such an important job--transporting them pair by pair to their new home.

Last but not least, I added hooks (my fingers got so tired!) all around the perimeter to hold hoop earrings, bracelets and other pieces that would fit.

And hooks along the bottom for necklaces. Though nothing's happened yet, these could become dangling cat toys... yikes. I hope to find the perfect little containers to go across the bottom shelf to hold small, non-dangle earrings. If you have an idea, please let me know. I'm picturing small, wire-like circular or square containers that I could glue onto the ledge.

It's exactly what I wanted! Thank you, hubby!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reading Goals and Bookshelf Plans

One of my (important to me) goals is to change my life. Isn't that always The Goal? But, this change is in regards to my mental health: I feel so much better when I read! I fell off the book wagon a few years ago, however, and haven't been reading as much as I'd like to.

So, my new goal is to read at least one book a month. And no garbage. I only want to read seriously-good-change-your-life books. Afterall, I only have so much time left in which to apply the lessons from my reading into my life, right? So, no fluff, nonsense or romance novels need get in my way.

Besides going out and buying the book, one of the easiest ways I've found to keep track of what I'm wanting is to keep an on-line list. I keep one on both Amazon and Goodreads since my to-read list seems so much bigger than my have-read list, and buying that many books would never work. Goodreads also allows me to interact with friends and see what they're reading, which of course only makes my to-read list even larger.

I also now have an e-reader, which I enjoy though it can't take the place of a physical book. I like the smell of a book and the weight of it in my hand, not to mention the satisfaction the comes from viewing a stack of "have-read" or "to-read" books lying about.

I've been enjoying looking through the free book offers on Amazon that I can send right to my Kindle and also I've checked a few out from our local library. For now, my own physical books are still packed away, and I miss them immensely. They will go here (see below) around this fireplace. My spouse, B, is going to build for me, grand, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on either side, and I could not be more excited.

The house came with this purple-gray wall color, which we love but would have never chosen on our own.
Of course, we have our first home to thank for the inspiration (below), but the new shelves will be open, and there are no windows in the space.

How it looked after it was ready to sell.

I most enjoy books by and about women (Sula is a favorite), about biracial experiences (some favorites are Ceremony and The Girl Who Fell From the Sky), coming-of-age (To Kill a Mockingbird, Forever by Blume), transformations (Song of Solomon), autobiographies (Malcolm X by Haley) and the grit of human experiences (Grapes of Wrath, Bloodroot, Roots).

If you have similar tastes, share a book recommendation with me & I'll share one with you, or join me on Goodreads. I'm Mamabelle, and if you're on the blog, you can click on my bookshelf to the right.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Operation Vacate to Operation Pay-off Update

In the last two years, I occasionally mentioned what I called "Operation Vacate"! It was our slow but steady plan to do some long overdue remodeling and attempt to sell our home and for the ultimate goal of becoming debt-free and acquiring our dream property. Since our home wasn't lavishly decorated  nor are we the greatest of housekeepers, we decided to live temporarily in an apartment at a parents, which afforded us the luxury of it costing us very little (besides more gas expenditure) to live somewhere else. The costs were probably evened out completely by not having to pay a high utility bill on an occupied old home (read: no wall insulation, old heating/cooling system, etc). In addition, being out of the home made remodeling go much easier.

After our house sold in December 2011, our plan was to then buy a foreclosure or some other fixer-upper for much less than we paid for our first home. And we did! We found a great place closer to my husband's work but still close to mine and to all of Knoxville.

It's taken some adjustments. Our old home was not just spacious for us with a full basement and four bedrooms, it was also super cute. Even though I know I'll never buy another house based on curb appeal, that's what I miss the most. I miss the tall ceilings, wood floors, the charm and most of all, the stone exterior.

Besides struggling with nostalgia though, our decision to move has been overwhelmingly pleasant. Though I look forward to a day when I have a gigantic garden, hen house, woods, a pond and can't even see a neighbor's house from my window, I am thoroughly enjoying our neighbors and the sense of community here. The new house is small enough that we can actually afford to decorate it! And to landscape as well. Our home is solid and most of all, it's completely affordable, which brings me to the core of our direction for operation pay-off.

We wanted to accomplish several things with our move:

  1. Have a low enough payment that either of us could afford to live here alone (if we were to become separated by death or divorce)
  2. Have a low enough payment that we could handle it even in case of a job loss.
  3. Have a 15 year mortgage
  4. Have a higher cash flow that we could use toward debt
  5. Have a home that would easily be changed into a rental home (or be resold if desired)

We have not yet activated operation pay-off (but we are super close) because we are still in the midst of fixing up our new home. When we finish, we'll begin putting all we can toward one debt at a time, till they're all gone. Doing that and also hopefully acquiring another rental property in the meantime, will take our guesstimate of about seven years. 

We anticipate several large bumps in the road along the way, of course. We hope those bumps are additional child(ren), newer vehicles or other anticipated events, but some bumps may end up being job loss or other calamities. And so we brace ourselves as best we can and continue moving forward! 

Our new home with sunflowers and new, baby trees and flower beds planted.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rosemary Wreath

I just made my first wreath ever, and it's made with fresh rosemary branches.

One of the perks of subdivision life is having cool neighbors, and my cool neighbor, K, has a rosemary bush, so each year when it's time to trim it back, she makes a wreath and hangs it in her kitchen. Not only does she then have au naturale aromatherapy, she then also has a fresh herb to easily add to her cooking. And it sure looks cute while it's drying when hung like a wreath.

I'd never made a wreath before, so she told me the basic procedure. I fashioned a coat hanger into an approximate circle with pliers and began. After going around it once, it looked kinda sad.

I didn't put the branches close enough together nor had I shaped or trimmed them all that well. I like the look of the wreaths with branches that stick out though, so I just kept on going.

Not too shabby, errr, actually quite shaggy, but I like it anyway. I don't really have a place to hang it in my kitchen, but I made room anyway and hung it from the curtain rod in front of my pantry. I just tied it on with string.

And making this wreath is about the only thing I accomplished yesterday morning. The rosemary does indeed smell nice!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Unsubscribe & a new direction

Knoxville Mamabelle blog is working toward a new direction. I have many interests, and my interest in couponing has waned.

It was fun! Sharing as much as I could find and posting more frequently, but it's been nice to have a break.

Perhaps it's all the hype, but maybe it's also all the coupon fraud that has lessened my interest in posting deals and going after the deals myself, even. I might still post something about saving money every now and then, but my main purpose will be to explore other facets of my world on this blog.

For now, I'll be working on changing the design and content of the page.

As I start posting again, the posts will be infrequent and varied--with the focus being more on crafts, projects, pets, motherhood, gardening, books, working toward our debt-free goals and more. I do enjoy having a more (seemingly) permanent home for things I'm interested in besides Facebook. There, everything is mumbled and lost in a mountain of walls and feeds. Here, everything is neat and categorized and much more under my control. I don't feel like I'm competing for attention or struggling to keep up with everyone. I can just relax and write...

Those who were subscribed because of wanting deals and coupons, etc, please do unsubscribe. This will be more of a personal blog. If you want to stay subscribed please reply to this email or post a comment in the upcoming weeks. After the blog changes get underway, I'll delete anyone I haven't heard from in a while to help me feel like I'm not wasting anyone's time. 

Peace and be well,


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Home Depot offering first-ever Do-it-Herself Worksop: Inspired by Pinterest

Home Depot offering first-ever Do-it-Herself Worksop: Inspired by Pinterest on Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Do-It-Herself Workshop is free!  

Learn how to create one of the most “pinned” projects on Pinterest – the Hanging Rope Shelf – at the next Do-It-Herself (DIH) workshop at The Home Depot.

The DIH Workshop: Inspired by Pinterest will cover how to create a functional and stylish Hanging Rope Shelf that can accent any room in your home.

The Home Depot DIH workshops aim to empower its female customers with skills, tips and tricks to deal with common household and fun d├ęcor projects.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

The Home Depot
(off Chapman Hwy in South Knoxville)
140 Green Road
Knoxville, TN 37920
Phone: 865-573-1457

ADMISSION: Free of charge

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 List on When to Buy Stuff at the best prices

Happy 2012!

Here's a comprehensive list from Life Hacker on when to buy this and that--from kitchen appliances to boots!

The Schedule