Back Home from Vacation

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As I mentioned in a few previous posts, my family and I spent some time at the beach this month.  The weather was perfect the entire trip - we were very lucky.  I constantly had my Kindle in my hand and read over ten books when I wasn't swimming and hiding from the sunball in the sky.  We used three or four bottles of SPF 50 & 80 and happy to report no major sunburns.  I can't say I'm happy it's over, but I was glad I missed TS Debby by a good 12 hours. 

Side note tip for taking your iphone or kindle to the pool or beach - use the snack size ziploc bags for your phone and a larger size bag for your kindle.  You won't have to worry about dripping water onto the screens or the sea spray/sand from the ocean.  It worked perfectly for me.

Now that I'm back and trying to get back in the swing of things with the blog, I thought I'd share some of my vacation pics.

Instead of just posting about it, I'd thought I'd add a feature on the blog to highlight anytime I have a fun picture to share with you. <insert drum roll here>

I added Instagram picture feeds!

In the picture below, you will notice I added the "Quaint Cottage" instagram feed on the top right of the blog page.  The Quaint Cottage instagram usually just focuses on all things to do with projects or adventures at the hardware store.  So, if it wasn't worthy of an entire blog post (because I don't normally just post things just for a single picture), you can find it here.

I also added my personal Instagram feed for anyone who wants to take a peek into my NON-blog world.  Again, I usually don't post things on the blog in reference to my own life or family just for the fact I started this blog as one to catalog my DIY projects. 
Although my life is one major DIY project all by itself if you ask me. 

Now that I've officially announced my return from vacation, I guess I need to get hopping on finishing some of my projects in the half bath and start a new mess in a new room.

I missed y'all!

Is anyone heading out on their vacation soon or just return? 
Did you chose to go to the beach or pick something else?

More to come soon.  Stay tuned.


Half bath Bookshelf - Installed

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Last week I posted on facebook and twitter a picture of the bookshelf I was working on to install in the half bath.  Part of the post was just me whining about painint it because I do that.

Well, I broke down and bought a paint gun....and I didn't use it!!  What?!

I read the directions and it said to use when temperatures were between 45-90 degrees.  Working in the garage, the temps get much hotter than 90 degrees when the regular temperature is 90, so I didn't use it.

After I started priming this piece, I realized I didn't have enough anyway.  As you will see in the bottom photo, I made it about seven feet up and ran out.

So now in addition to finishing the priming and caulking, I need to paint it.  But, with the help of the hubby I was able to squeeze this huge thing into the small half bath and install it.  Then I added a little cubbie up top to give it more of a built in look.

I just threw some goodies on the shelf for now to see how it would work.

Almost finished with the room.

Have a great week!


Stacked Baseboards

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As I try to waste time this morning to avoid going in the garage to build the bookcase for the half bath, I'd thought I'd answer one of the emails I received from a reader.

I've lived in this house for over ten years.  According to my master plan when I moved in, I should have completely been finished with all my remodel projects by now....finished the basement and possibly have an in-ground pool.  However, when I tend to remodel over and over until I think I've got it right things take a bit longer than I plan.  The only thing I have going for me is my overwhelming need to keep the structure as classic as I can.

By classic, I'm referring to the oak wood floors, trims & molding, windows, doors, etc.  The "structure" things you shouldn't really need to change when you remodel a room around a new comforter you purchase.  Classic white trim and oak wood floors (in my eyes and heart) will always be in style.

A reader spotted these baseboards in a photo of an end table I did last year.

Hallway to family room from front door

When I started installing the 2000+/- square feet of wood floors about three or four years into living here, I was sitting on the couch with a Pottery Barn catalog on my lap.  I don't have it anymore or I'd show you the picture of the inspiration.  While flipping through it I saw one of their beautiful pieces of furniture, but that isn't what caught my eye.  It was the stacked baseboard behind it.  I had to have sat there for an hour trying to figure out how to recreate those same baseboards.  But the thing that kept halting me was the fact their baseboards looked like a 1x12 board routed with beautiful grooves to create a piece of art.

Then, I set down the catalog and headed to my hardware store for therapy (Yes, I like to hang out in the lumber section to clear my head.  Some girls shoe shop, I buy lumber.  Don't judge).  I started picking up pieces of trim molding and inspecting them.  I brought home about five different pieces and began to create.


But, when the dust settled, this is what I ended up doing.

1 - Top piece 1 1/4" Picture molding
2 - Middle piece 1" framed rope molding
3 - 5" baseboard (which I'm certain you could create with two separate pieces)

Unfortunately, it was BB (before blog) so I don't remember item numbers, prices, etc.  But, if you have read this blog before you know I'm all about creating something special on a very thrifty budget.  I wouldn't have bought the high end $5 a linear foot stuff.  When I win the lottery (because I will someday, I just know it) I will probably still have the same need to recreate things on a budget I will just have way more time to do it.

I measured 11.5" up from the floor (same as a 1x12" piece of lumber) marked around the room with my tape measure and level and installed the picture molding.  Then I marked 8" up and repeated the process with the framed rope pieces.  Then I installed the baseboards.  I don't think it matters if you start at the top or the bottom.

Then, caulk, prime and paint.  I do remember the day I painted mine I had the Cardinal v Brewer game on in the background.  It was hard to pay attention to cutting in with the distraction.

Front Living Room

I still have some requests to see the kitchen (which was also a total gut before the blog).  I haven't forgotten.

Have a great day!!!


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Food DIY - Fruit Roll Ups

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Do you (or your kids) love those really sweet fruit roll up treats?  Do you feel like you need a trip to the dentist immediately after eating one?  I do!  That's why we only buy them from the store once or twice a year.  I'd rather the kids (and myself) eat "junk food" that isn't going to rot the teeth. 

I'm not saying this because I'm a strict, health-food type of person.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm the biggest fan of salty chips and buttered popcorn on the planet, possibly the universe.  But...if I can substitute healthy options into my diet without upsetting the mindset I'm still having a yummy snack, it's a win-win.

After I posted about the new dehydrator I purchased and the turkey jerky snacks I made, I started to make a list of other goodies I wanted to try. 

We have a road trip coming up in a few weeks from Saint Louis to Destin and back.  If you are like me on a road trip, it means anything you find at a gas station or fast food stop along the highway is fair game in your diet.  It's vacation right?  But, I'd love to have healthy snacks for us to have on hand in the car. 

In addition to the jerky, apple chips and banana chips, tonight I'm testing out fruit roll ups.  They are also referred to as "Fruit Leathers" online.  So if you are hunting recipes, keep that in mind.

The formula seems to be pretty simple -
liquid fruit (apple sauce) + fruit of your favorite flavor + sweetner/flavor

Some of the recipes I found say to just use apple sauce and flavored syrup or juice.  But, if I'm making them why not make the fruit mixture and use all natural ingredients?

With me so far?

List of items I used -

6-7 Granny Smith Apples
1/2-1 cup of sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 quart Fresh Strawberries
3 Tablespoons Orange Juice
Parchment Paper (Cling Wrap could work too)

4 Qt Sauce Pan
Rubber Spatula
Knife, Cutting Board

Here is how I made my roll ups.

6-7 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped, mixed in a sauce pan with a half cup of sugar and a splash of OJ.  I let them begin to simmer as I chopped a quart of fresh strawberries.  I added those to the simmering apples and more sugar until I reached the desired flavor.  On mine I actually tried half regular sugar and half Splenda to help reduce calories.  I tried to make an apple pie once with Splenda and no sugar and it turned out dry, so I didn't go full Splenda on this for that reason.

Once the fruits have become mushy and they begin to break easily, turn off stove and tranfser a few cups at a time into a blender.  Puree and pour through a strainer (if you are using pulpy or seeded fruits) into a large bowl. 

When you have strained the entire batch (it should be the thickness of a smoothie, just not runny), prepare parchment paper rectangles with a lip around all four edges.  Pay special attention to the corners to avoid any spills if you overfill.  Ladle enough of your strained puree into the paper structures to coat the bottom about 1/8".  Remember, the dehydrator will reduce the content so try to keep them even to make them look consistent.

Set in the dehydrator on the "Fruit" setting.  On mine (750watt) the setting was about 135F/57C.  Depending on the strength of your dehydrator, you should have a finished fruit snack in about 3-5 hours.  I usually check them every hour.

Enjoy!  Next week I'm planning on testing granola bars.  Yummy!!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Karen :)

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The day after updates:
On a couple of the sheets, it was thicker than a regular roll up so it did take longer than the original 3-5 hours (more like 10-12).  The picture below shows how thick that piece was (about twice the thickness of normal).

Be warned.  As a kid, I probably won't have liked them if I saw the real bits of strawberry fruit in the roll up (like below).  If you or your kids are picky, you can try a better strainer.  However, those little strawberry bits didn't change the texture of the snack (even on the ones that were the appropriate thickness), just the fact you could see it was made with real fruit.  I know some kids may consider this a deal breaker. 

Roll the paper, cut into strips and put into baggies.  Use a sharp knife, press down on the line and just push through the whole roll.  Obviously, we had to test a few while packaging.  I would say a batch this size would have made about 30-36 roll ups if I would have keep them a consistent thickness.  Oh well.  I'm not opposed to eating my mistakes.