instant goodness amped up

So, I got a message from a friend who read my blog and was a long time lover of the potato flake chicken recipe I shared.  She had a variation on the recipe, so I thought I would share it with all...it's selfish not to share a great recipe!
"I personally have been making it for YEARS, and I LOVE it....just thought I might pass on some helpful hints....One if you mix the melted butter with italian dressing you can use less butter and amp up the flavor, and two if you buy the season potato flakes (they come in a little pouch) you also add more flavor and I personally like the texture better than the boxed ones for some reason. Anyways that's all. I love the dish, my husband requests it constantly...and its way easy to mix it up with different seasons and such." 
Mmmmm...sounds tasty!  I never even thought about using seasoned flakes to change the flavor!  What a genius!  I encourage you to absolutely try this one out, you're going to love it!

Oh, and  
Happy Halloween!


no one likes naked windows

No, but honestly...no one likes a naked window.  They look so cold, uninviting and bachelor-esque!  Ewwwww!  When my husband and I moved into our apartment I fell in love with the over abundance of windows in our living room space.  I however, did not fall in love with the idea of buying window coverings for all of them.  So once again, my craftability took the reins and the wheels were in motion.
I decided to use standard flat bed sheets.  My husband had some sheets that he bought to use for make shift curtains in his bachelor days.  I can't remember the exact price of the sheets, but I am for certain they were no more than $5 at the very most.  My husband had used standard tension rods to hold up his curtains so we used those.  We also bought some cafe rods (the simple little ones that have a hook on either end of the window and the rod sits in it) because we have some bigger windows.
Once again, I broke out my sewing machine and got to work.  I laid out the sheets and folded them in half longways.  I then cut them in half with ordinary kitchen scissors to make panels.  The best part of using sheets: they are hemmed already, you only have to hem the side you cut!  I then sewed a small hem on the unfinished side.  I used the top part of the sheet, with the folded down looking part as a guide for making the pocket for the rod to slip into.  I folded down the top to the 'folded over edge' and sewed a straight line making the pocket.  My husband so graciously fought with the curtain rods so that I didn't have to.  What a guy!  To make the tension rods look like cafe rods we bought the brackets separately (all of my supplies are from Wal Mart).
It was now time to christen my windows with their economically friendly coverings.   I put the rod through the pocket and hung the rod on the brackets.  For the ones using tension rods I made sure the ends of the rod were covered by the curtain and put it onto the bracket, it was a tight squeeze but it will also ensure the end stays in place.
The window pictured is a small window, much to small for two panels.  All of my other windows have two panels.  The panels are a little long for our windows and puddle (pile up at the bottom) quite a bit.  However, we have furniture in front of most all walls, so no worries for us.  Though, with children you might want to cut and hem it so no one trips! (Trust me, this happens...I have the same treatment in our bedroom and my husband has!)  You might also think about hanging the rods higher and adding a valance to cover the empty wall space.  Doing so will add height to your room!
Don't stop with this simple design, add a button border to the top or some ribbons as tie backs.  Get inspired, create something marvelous!


5 step mac-n-cheese

Top 5 loves in my life: God, my husband, my family, creating, macaroni and cheese!

My mom can whip up a macaroni and cheese that will leave you begging for seconds, thirds, fourths and more!  Growing up, it was a staple for Holidays and Sunday afternoon meals.  Now that I am married and living two and a half hours from Sunday afternoon meals, I have to make the mac-n-cheese.  Surprisingly enough, this homemade cheesy classic is pretty simple.  The best part is this recipe has no exact measurements (that may not seem like a good thing, but it is) so it can be made for a party of one or an army of many!  I've  broken it down into 5 simple steps...here they are!

Elbow Macaroni Noodles
Salt and Pepper
Shredded Cheese
Cracker or Bread Crumbs*
*optional (I don't care for them, my husband loves 'em!)

You will need:
Oven Preheated to 350
Pot to boil noodles
See through dish to make macaroni in (to see how much milk, as you become a pro you can use dishes that aren't see through!)

Step 1: Boil your noodles according to directions on the box.  (honestly, I've never measured an amount out...just an educated guess.  Don't worry if you have too much the left overs can be used for something else.  If you have too little, add more cheese!)

Step 2: Butter your dish.  Literally, get some butter on your fingers and put a light coat of butter over the entire inside of the dish you are making the mac-n-cheese in!  I've never used a spray butter or anything like that...I enjoy the messy part!

Step 3: Put a layer of noodles in your dish.  How thick this layer of noodles is depends on how deep your dish is and how many layers you want to make.  Salt and Pepper your noodles

Step 4: Cover your noodle layer with a layer of shredded cheese.  Once you get your cheese on, salt and pepper the layer and add some butter on top.  Repeat step 3 and 4 until your dish is full.

Step 5: Pour milk over your macaroni.  There is no right or wrong amount.  My husband likes his macaroni very milky, so I put a good bit.  My mom wold normally pour it in until she saw milk from half way to 2/3 of the way up the sides.  Now, the milk will not fill up the dish, it will pour over the noodles and cheese and soak through each layer.

There you go!  5 steps and you are ready to bake your masterpiece!  If you would like, before you bake the macaroni add the bread crumbs or crackers to the top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until you see the cheese on top browning and bubbling.

Enjoy your mac n cheese, trust me it won't be hard!  You can also add some seasoning, bacon pieces, anything you want!  My husband likes chili powder and crushed red peppers.  Me, I like the classic!  Get creative, get inspired!


pillow talk pt 2

I bought place mats and napkins to make pillows from.  In pillow talk pt. 1 I told you how I made the napkin pillows.  Now, onto the place mat pillows!  I bought four place mats and wanted to make four pillows.  I could have made just two by using two place mats each but, didn't!  I happen to have some plain brown fabric left over from some wedding crafts and decided to use that as the back side of the pillow.  The fabric I used had some stretch to it...make sure yours doesn't!  It was a pain in the neck, but in the end worked just fine!
First I cut a piece of brown fabric down to the size of the place mat.  I then put the place mat and piece of fabric together, with the place mat facing down (what you want to see when the pillow is done should not be showing).  Sew around three whole sides of the pillow, close to the outer edge.  Once you get to the last side, sew about a third of the way on each side.  This should leave about a third of the side open to stuff the pillow.  Turn the pillow right side out and begin stuffing.  Stuff the corners first with hand fulls of filling working your way to the middle.  Stitch up the opening and voile, there is your place mat pillow!
I could have simply used another place mat for the back side of the pillow and skipped the extra fabric cutting step.  However, I wanted to get as many pillows as possible from the materials I had.
I hope you enjoy your pillows made from place settings!  Get inspired, create something gorgeous!


pillow talk pt. 1

When we bought our couch and love seat they each came with two throw pillows.  They are quite possibly the ugliest pillows I have ever seen in my life.  I must admit, they are quite comfy.  However, comfort does not always win out in the home decor battle.  Therefore, I was bound and determined to get some new throw pillows.  I registered for some gorgeous pillows for our wedding...and there they still sit on our registry.  I understand why no one bought them, they were $25 each!  What?!  I mean, it can't hurt to ask.
Being a crafty gal, I knew that I could come up with something that would work just as well.  I went to Wal Mart and scoured the 'dollar a yard' bins in the fabric department (which, I am appalled to find out the newly redone Wal Marts no longer have a fabric section. BOOOOO!!) but, found nothing that spoke to me.  I kind of had an idea of the colors I wanted to bring into the living room.  Then, while I was walking past the seasonal home decor isles I spotted table settings in the colors I was looking for!!  The little light bulb above my head went off, the wheels started turning, a smile came to my face...needless to say, it was a great trip to Wal Mart.
I bought 4 placemats for $2 each and a set of 2 fabric napkins for $2.  I then went to the craft and fabric department and bought a bag of Poly-Fil (stuffing), I got the biggest bag because I wasn't sure exactly how much I would need.  That costs me $8 (I made 6 pillows and still have a little left over...not bad).
I started with the napkin pillows first.  I folded the napkin in half, inside out.  I then broke out my sewing machine (the greatest Christmas gift I have ever gotten) and sewed around the 3 edges (not the fold).  On the last of the three sides, I left a small area in the middle.  This open space is so that I could get my hand in to stuff the pillow.  Be sure not to make the opening too small, you will wind up ripping it open when you go to stuff it.  Turn the pillow right side out.  Be sure the corners are pointed out as much as they will.  Start stuffing!  Take hand fulls of stuffing and push it into the corners first, then fill in between.  Pack it firmly or not, whatever you like.  When your pillow is all stuffed, hand stitch the remaining opening closed with a needle and thread.  Try to stay as close tot he edge as possible so that it is less noticeable.  Once your opening it stitched shut make a small knot in the thread and cut it off as close tot he knot as possible.
There you have it!  A pillow from a napkin!  Now, click here to see how to make a pillow from a place mat!  Get inspired, create something magnificent!


cumbly goodness

My husband and I are quite the loyal fans of Starbucks' Reduced Fat Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake...we're hooked!  But honestly, it cost too much!  We treat ourselves every now and then to come coffee cake goodness but still it's hard to fathom how much annually we spend.  So, being the creative and thrifty wife I am I went to looking online for a recipe!
I found this recipe online and decided to give it a whirl!  I followed the directions given on the site and it was actually very easy.  However, when I made my topping, I accidentally melted the butter rather than getting it to room temperature.  It wound up making a pasty mixture rather than a crumbly one.  So, when I finished with the cake recipe i just mixed in the 'topping' mixture, it gave a swirl effect to the cake.  I then topped the cake with brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon.  I had to cook the cake 45 minutes to get it done.  The recipe said only 30 minutes, but that wasn't working for me!
This recipe was simple to follow and used such common ingredients.  Both my husband and I love the cake...and Starbucks will be feeling the loss soon enough!


instant goodness

Growing up, I never ate instant potatoes.  To this day, I may have eaten them a total of maybe two or three times ever!  Well, a co-worker told me about a recipe for baked breaded chicken using instant potato flakes.  I was intrigued and quite frankly a little grossed out.  Well, I decided to take the plunge and try the dish in an effort to 'be a better wife' by making a better variety of foods for my husband and I.  It turns out the recipe was quite simple and my husband and I both enjoyed it a lot.  I now and no longer prejudice towards instant spuds and I am glad for that.

Here is the recipe I used

1/3 cup potato flakes (half package of Winn Dixie brand)
1/6 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (I just went half way to the 1/3 line on the measuring cup)
(optional - seasonings for flavor)
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease baking sheet
2. Defrost chicken breats (if frozen)
3. Melt butter
4. Mix potato flakes, cheese and seasonings in a bowl until well blended
5. Brush melted butter onto chicken breats
6. Coat the butter covered chicken breasts with your breading mixture
7. Bake chicken for 40-60 minutes

I was a tad bit worried that the chicken would turn out dry or just plain taste nasty!  Though, to my surprise the chicken was neither dry nor nasty!  I was in awe and am so excited about having a new dish to serve!


storybooks revisited

I love the idea of reclaiming old items.  The outcome is always something unique and has so much more value and interest than most things store bought.  I was inspired by a show I was watching to write this post.  Now, I haven't done any of these projects...yet.  I have a small apartment and just don't have space to display everything I would like to create!  However, I do plan on doing these projects sometime.  Christmas is coming up and I am actually thinking of using some as inexpensive gifts for friends and family.

So here it is, a few ideas on how to reuse old books.
1. Turn the Artwork intp Artwork
        Find an old book with great pictures and frame them.  This would work wonderfully with an old storybook in a child's room or nursery.  Books are readily available at thrift stores as well as used book stores.  You could look for photography books or art books to add to a more grown-up space.  Simply take the book apart, cut the picture down to size and frame.  Now, frames are not the most inexpensive item out there.  Though, considering the price of artwork, it's a nice alternative.  Shop sales, use coupons and don't be afraid to rummage into every thrift store you find!  You could find a great, ornate used frame and spray paint it to match your decor.  Use a photo mat for a for classic look or no frame for a more modern feel.  

2. Furniture Face Lift
      Have an old end table that you can't stand the sight of?  Coffee table top looking a bit dingy?  Use pages from a book to recover it.  You could just paint the furniture, but why not add some more interest?  Even if you only cover the top, it is sure to add dimension and personality.  Simply sand the piece down so that the items will hold better.  Then place the pages as desired onto the surface.  Use Modge Podge (or make your own for cheaper) to coat the page.  This will keep it in place and put a protective, shiny finish over top.  Use a paint brush or a foam brush to apply.

3. Background Music
      Cover a plain artists canvas with sheet music or pages from a book in the same way you did with the furniture.  Take your favorite picture and have it printed out.  You can use any size canvas you would like.  I would suggest a smaller size, so that it can be easily displayed.  Also, the price of printing out larger photos and get steep.  Once your canvas is covered, apply the picture to the center (or off center if you wish) using the same technique.  Or, for something less permanent use double sided tape so that you can change out the photo regularly.  If you've covered the sides of the canvas, it is ready to hang.  Or, craft stores sell pre-made frames to fit canvases that can be spray painted to a desired color or just left as they are.

I looked on the internet and found some other projects that were a bit trickier than these.  Enjoy, get inspired, create!!


boring rug no more

Area Rug Before
The less than desirable carpet in our apartment is beige, well, at least the parts that aren't stained.  My husband brought with him two area rugs when we moved in together.  Both were on sale at Wal-Mart and both are quite frankly, boring.  One is tan and the other green.  They are not soft rugs.  However, they do look a million times better than our carpet, so we enjoy them!  I've read in magazines and such 'never put an area rug on wall to wall carpeting...blah blah blah blah" But, really?  Come to my apartment and then tell me to roll up the rug!  I have been itching to get a rug with some color in it...since all but one of our walls in white.  Though, we just don't have the money to spend on a new area rug.  Not to mention, those puppies are expensive!  I couldn't believe some of the prices I saw.
Naturally, being the crafty 'I can make that' gal that I am...I decided to take the matter into my own hands.  I went down to my local A.C. Moore and bought some fabric paint.  Now, I didn't buy the puffy paint, dimensional stuff.  I got Folk Art brand paint.  I found it along with the acrylic paints, these say 'Fabric' on them, they come in 2 ounce bottles.  I chose the colors that I wanted to incorporate into my living room.  I had seen a rug at target with colors I liked though, it was too small for our need.  Click Here to see my inspiration.  I wound up getting five different colors and buying some stencil brushes.  I had no clue what kind of brush to get to paint a rug, so I thought this would do.  All together I spent less than $7.00 for all of my supplies, the paints were on sale and I had a coupon for 25% off of the brushes.  (hint hint: I got the coupons through signing up on the website...good idea and I've gotten some awesome coupons!)

Area Rug After Face Lift!
I got home and spread out my supplies.  I left the heavy labor to my husband, he got the rug from under our furniture.  I then took and painted my rug.  I chose to go color by color, so I could make sure I balanced it out.  I didn't want a huge amount of one color in any area.  The paint says it take 24 hours to dry, so we left it out and tried to walk around it!  Both my husband and I are highly satisfied with the outcome of my rug.  Not to mention, this 'brand new' area rug cost under $10.00!
I actually had some other ideas, for those less ambitious than I.  One could simply tape off boxes and paint squares of colors, or just paint a border.  Even, if you felt more comfortable with a stencil, there are some pretty good ones out there.  Also, monogramming is a definite possibility, especially to a small rug at an entrance.  The possibilities are endless, get inspired and create!

one wall made the difference

My husband and I are renting an apartment right now which means all white walls.  I really loathe white walls when in excess.  We have an upstairs apartment which means we have nice, high, vaulted ceilings!  This feature that I love so much means a lot of high, white walls. Bleh!  I had had enough of the over abundance of boring in my apartment.  No matter what I tried, I couldn't get over ALL the white.  I begged and bartered with my then fiance to let me paint the walls.  His draw back was that we were renting and would be eventually leaving the apartment.  That would mean we would have to paint the walls back white. (I shudder at the thought).  We made a compromise.  I could paint one wall, any wall I wanted!  I chose the wall with the most surface area, to get as much color as possible.  We were out running errands when we came to this conclusion and I talked him into going to get the paint that day.  We finally chose a color called 'grounded'.  How perfect for us!  Now, the picture with this post is one from over three months ago.  Our living room has changed some, I've added more and changed a lot.  Those pictures will come up as I write about different project.  I hope my wall does something to inspire someone.


decor gone door hanger

without ribbon hanger
My husband's last name begins with a P, and I wanted to incorporate our monogram and such into our wedding decor.  I was looking at pictures of weddings at the same venue as ours and came across a wedding that had a detail I loved!  To create my masterpiece, I first purchased a large paper mâché letter P from JoAnns.  They were actually on sale, so I was quite pleased with myself!  Also, almost every week in the Sunday paper, Joanns has a sales flyer with a 40% off any regular priced item...SCORE!  I then bought a bag of moss.  I never knew there were so many different types of moss, it was quite overwhelming at first.  I took a deep breath and weighed my options.  I wound up buying a roll of moss in a sheet form.  That sounds odd, I know.  I bought one bag for about $12 but, if I would have had my coupon with me I could have gotten 40% off...unscore for me.  I took my new found goodies home and began working.  I unrolled the moss sheet and cut it to size.  I then sprayed glue on to the letter and attached the moss, wrapping it around the edges.  It did take some piecing to cover the whole letter.  All-in-all it took me less than a half hour to cover the entire letter.  I also had some silk flowers left over from other wedding crafts, so I positioned them on the letter and hot glued them into place.  I used some clear coat spray paint and sprayed the whole letter down, just to be safe.  I just wanted to make sure the little moss bits didn't fall off!  
I then took ribbon and made a hanger.  I found some heavy duty magnets in the arts and craft department of Wal-Mart, they are small and round, almost like an oversized watch battery and came in a pack of three.  I used all three magnets hot glued to the back of the hanger...that puppy didn't budge!  I could have gotten away with two magnets though, rather be safe than sorry!
I now use the letter as a door decoration.  We have a metal door so the crazy super magnets work perfectly!  When the time comes around to hang a Christmas wreath (which my husband and I are already gawking at in stores...we LOVE Christmastime!), I'm not sure what I will do with my prized P.  Maybe I will come up with a marvelous storage solution and write a little post about it...maybe not.

nifty little sacks, i think

Yesterday I shared my delicious candy buffet experience with all who care, and then realized I didn't even tell you what the guests took their goodies home in!  Crazy, I know!  I really wanted a handmade look to as much as my decorations as possible, we were going for a vintage, garden feel.  I knew I needed something for the guests to fill up on their own that would also let them know this was their favor.  I had the idea for brown paper bags.  Now, not the normal lunch size ones...I didn't buy THAT much candy!  I looked online and searched for prices and calculated shipping then decided to go see what my local Sam's Club had to offer.  Perfect, they had little bags, a size 2 I believe they were in brown Kraft paper (the alternative was white and I didn't want that).  There were 500 in the package for less than $5.  Honestly, I'm not sure what I will use the left over 325 bags for, but I am sure I will come up with something wonderful, just give me time!  This price was by far, the best I has found and the shipping was free (because I bought them in store).
I of course, had to add a wee bit of style to these little baggies.  I went on search for the most perfect rubber stamp I could find.  I set out to find one that said 'Thanks'.  No such luck, I found a lot of different stamps but they were so expensive and never seemed to go on sale.  Then, something all together beautiful caught my eye while standing in my local A.C. Moore, clear stamps.  I thought 'huh? wonder how these work', then read the back.  All I needed was one acrylic block (available for purchase at under $5) and these little clear letters, I could place them anyway I like and make any word I like them stamp on, reposition and stamp again!  I fell in love.  I bought a set of alphabet as well as a pack of different flowers.  Now, the packages of stamps were $10 each, but I figured it a good deal since I could make practically countless combinations with them unlike the one design I could make with a $8 rubber stamp.  Oh yeah, then I bought an orange and a brown ink pad.
I took my new found goodies home and dive right into crafting.  I arranged three different flowers into a pattern I decided was adequate and arranged my letters into my word 'thanks'.  I then began to stamp away.   The ink began to run out, I just added a tiny bit of water to it and kept on trucking!  I made 175 bags and it took a few days (not WHOLE days, I did few hour sessions while watching t.v.).  I stamped in stages, the flowers first then the word then flowers again, it was easier than switching between ink pads and stamps.  I was (and still am) quite happy with the end result.   I wound up placing a bag with one rock candy and a bookmark in it at each place setting to add to the table decor.


a thrifty sugar addicts dream

Photo by Lauren Mason, Piccadilly pictur
I have been married for little over two months, my older sister will be getting married in less than two weeks and my best friend is getting married in less than a year (on my on year anniversary, actually).  So, you will have to excuse me if I have wedding on the brain!  Not to mention I have a grand dream of becoming a wedding planner (see Simply Unique Weddings and Events).  The project I thought I would share is a candy buffet, which was in full swing at my wedding.  My sweet tooth was completely fulfilled and the budget was kept to...what a beautiful accomplishment!  First, I  decided on the candy I HAD to have.  I knew this would probably be the pricey part, so I braced myself.  My wedding colors were orange and brown and the candies I wanted so dearly were rock candy, circus peanuts, orange slices and tootsie rolls.  Now, I had more than that, those were just the ones that I couldn't budge on...my sweet tooth would not allow it.In the photos I found online I saw gorgeous apothecary jars (the ones that look like they used in old-time pharmacy stores) with a not as pretty price tag.  The jars were upwards of $30 a pop!  Uh, no thanks! Don't get me wrong, they were so pretty and shiny and it was hard to be so cruel to such pretty decor but, I stood my ground.  I knew I wanted glass containers so that the colors of the candy would show through, a light bulb went off (well, technically turned on...but anyways) glass vases!  My husband and I are quite the lovers of a good thrift store, we visit them often.  I began searching at every one I came to for the perfect vases and canisters.  I looked for vases with a wide opening, that didn't taper in very much so that my guest could dig into the delicious treats!  SCORE!  I actually found more jars than I had candy ideas so duh, I added more candies to the mix!  I even had my mom searching for glass containers.  All in all, we spent a total of about $40 on the jars for the candy buffet! What? That's right...40 big ones for ALL of them.  As you can tell in the picture, we added some pizazz with different size ribbons (held on with double sided Scotch tape) and labels printed on card stock.
Now, the canisters were cheap so that we could spend more on the candy...and boy did we ever.  We still shopped around and bought in bulk to save some money though, we spent about $200 on the candy.  I had about 120 guests at my wedding and there was candy left over (that was gone soon after).  I now use vases in my home as decoration and also have used them to decorate for my sisters bridal shower.  Her wedding has a beach theme so I put some sand in the vast with shells, sea grass and a starfish as decoration on the cake table.  You can see pictures of that project at www.wix.com/mrspeluyera/unique-wed, I think they turned out great, but I am a wee bit partial!

...and now I blog!!

 Photo by Lauren Mason, Piccadilly Pictures
I am a 23 year old, newly married college graduate with a love of design.  Now, I didn't say I had talent or anything that serious, just a passion.  I am constantly coming up with ideas of things to make, paint, sew, build, recover!  My magnificent husband is wonderfully supportive in all of my endeavors.  Though, he's quite opinionated!  As you might have imagined, we don't have marvelous, high-paying jobs with which we make oodles of money to be able to go out and buy a whole new room whenever we'd like. Nope, I'm at part-time job making minimum wage and my husband is a server (actually, a quite talented one) at a local chain-restaurant and also works part-time as a security guard.  Don't get me wrong, we are comfortable where we are now.  We love our 'starting out place' and wouldn't trade it for anything.  What newlywed couple gets the blessing of working the same hours so as to have all day to spend together at home?  I'll tell you who, us!  My goal in decorating 'our first place', a 600 square-foot, one bedroom, one bath apartment in Jacksonville, FL is DO IT CHEAP! (cheap being the price not the quality, of course)  I am constantly on the look out for things to re-purpose and reuse.  I'm proud of what we've got so far and excited for the ideas in my head to come to life.  This blog will mainly be me sharing my projects with anyone who would like to read.  Hope you enjoy and just maybe even be inspired to create something marvelous of your own!
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