Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Small Pan Brownie

Let's pretend that every once in awhile I want a hot, chocolaty brownie.  Just a little.  Not enough to give away or sit around the house getting dry and stale.  

So, I shall share my, the recipe I would use if I did this:

The small pan Brownie

1/2 C (1 cube) butter
1/2 C cocoa
1 C sugar
2 eggs
pinch of baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 C whole wheat flour
nuts and/or chocolate chips if desired

Melt butter, add other ingredients, and pour into a greased *small* pan.  Bake at 350 for around 20 minutes.  If you bake it in an iron skillet like I do, it would be cute served with scoops of ice cream on top and a fork for everyone who wanted to dig in!

Crafting Possiblities

I discovered my local Habitat for Humanity Re-store.  They are cool places.  If you have one in your area, check it out.  It's a great resource for DIY'ers that also supports a helpful charity.  We've donated stuff there too, and it worked smoothly.

Anyhoo...while there I picked up this beautiful piece of wood...which just so happens to be an unstained cabinet door (for $5).  It's completely square, so kind of an odd size for a cabinet door, but excellent for a craft I have in mind.  

Stay tuned to find out what I do with this!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Diaper Box Re-use Saves $

I had to snap a few shots on my purse camera while I was out doing my grocery shopping.  I just had to prove to someone that re-using and re-purposing my diaper boxes was in fact a useful way to organize - much, much cheaper than buying baskets.

Caught on Camera

Thanks, kids.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Vitamin Mystery

Every day I take a prenatal vitamin.  I am not pregnant, but my general doctor suggested to keep taking them for awhile.  I saw him for general exhaustion as well as some other physical and mental complaints almost a year ago and he did extensive blood testing.  Everything was in the "normal range," so he concluded that I was just an exhausted mom.

Yeah, he's right in many ways.  I have been pregnant and/or nursing for the last 10 years (am still nursing).  My body is drained.  I think an obvious help to this situation would be for me to stop nursing, right?!  My son has oral aversion, and while he's making progress, letting him continue to nurse feels like the right thing to do for his nutrition and to keep the progress comfortable and slow for him.

So, back to the vitamins.  I take one every morning and I swear I feel different for several hours after taking it.  And about 4 or 5 hours after taking it I feel yucky again.  I'm not sure if just tiredness is the right description.  I don't know how to describe it.

Yes.  The thought has crossed my mind that this is the "placebo affect" and all in my head.  But on the chance it is not, I'm really curious what it is my body needs more of that it is getting a little of in that prenatal vitamin.  Figuring that out will be no easy task because they are chalk full of LOTS of little vitamins and minerals.  How in the world would I know?  I do know it wouldn't be safe to just take more of the prenatal vitamin, because I may get too much of something else.

As a side note, I also drink a green smoothie almost every day, and while they have some great benefits, I don't notice the same effect as I do after the prenatal vitamin.

I guess this may be a question for the doctor (who wasn't super helpful to begin with), but I thought I'd also take a chance on asking my internet peeps if any of you have advice or insight you could share with me on the subject.

Thanks in advance!


Fast, Easy Dinner

I don't know what to call this recipe.  It's about as basic as a meal comes.  It's not all that healthy, but it's probably better than fast food.  So we could call it that - homemade fast food!  Healthier and just as fast!

1. Cut up potatoes
2. Steam for 5-10 minutes in microwave
3.  Cut up hot dogs and cook with potatoes in some oil or butter.
4.  When crispy add salt and pepper or any seasonings, really.
5.  When cooked, turn off heat to pan and cover with shredded melted cheese.  As soon as the cheese melts on the hot food, feed your family.  Kids like this with ketchup.
6.  If you are a good mom you'll add salad or a vegetable or fruit to the table too.
7.  But you should know that the fact you fed your family from the work of your own hands deserves a reward in heaven no matter what :).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Garage Organizing

This is another one of those amazing Mr. Warmth posts, but I'm sure he'd love to give props to his darling assistants:

They were always nearby with wistful looks, proud smiles, and even some clapping from the little guy :)

What they are sitting behind got painted tan and is now here on the ceiling holding the first bike(see picture below).  These work on a pulley system, so we can just lower the bikes/stroller down when we need them. 

Yes, honey, you are amazing.

Even the kid's bikes and other accessories got a place to stay.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Marinated Pork Chops

I haven't done much couponing lately, but I'm always looking to stretch my grocery budget.  I found these pork chops marked down awhile ago for $8.15 if you can't quite make out that price tag.  It was a big package, originally around $12, I think.  

When I got home I divided them into two containers to split it into two meals.  Then I poured some honey mustard dressing over this batch as a marinade and seasoned liberally with Montreal Steak seasoning.

I froze both batches already marinated/seasoned since they were close to their date and so the flavors could meld during the thawing process, when we were ready to eat them.  My husband grilled the first batch and they were AMAZING!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Welcome to our "fun house!"

When we removed the carpet, pulled out the staples, and then treated the floor stains....what was the next step?  To seal those floors with primer so that the smells could NEVER ooze through our lovely, luscious, brand-new carpet that we hope to have someday.

While we were planning to spend over $100-200 on primer to do this task, one day I had an idea...the previous owners left TONS of paint gallons they had never used and some were mixed with primers or tinted primers themselves.

While I'd always pictured this whole process resulting with white sub-floors I realized that underneath a pad and carpet the color really didn't matter.  And I am cheap love to recycle!  We used up about 8 gallons of this leftover stuff so far and it's worked great.

It was only a little awkward when we had television crews in our house last week and our floors were multi-colored.  Whatever.  This is my life!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kid Plays with camera/ Mom plays with editing

Mama's Mulch

I took pictures of a pile of bags of mulch for my blog.  Let's file this under posts about "I'm weird, and have issues," okay?

Trying to come up with a meaningful explanation I'll say this: 

  • It was on sale at Home Depot
  • I like this color of brown
  • We wanted more mulch to go around our plants
  • It was fun to spread it out around the plants
  • We still need like 20 more bags to make it look right.

And this, my friends, is the end of an awkward blog post.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


This is what happens first thing in the morning this summer break.

Makes me smile!

Summer of the Deck

Remember how I told you all our steps to getting this deck livable and usable again?  I'm back to say it was SO totally worth it.  Now that the kids are home all day for the summer it is getting used for hours every day.  Rewards like that are why we work our tails off and really have no other hobbies at the moment.  We live for the rewards of a house not just restored to looking decent but really giving to our family what it needs each day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Garage Overhead Storage

Do you see the board "shelf" there in the air above that garage door?

Mr. Warmth is utilizing the great amount of space in our garage in a number of ways.  He made these storage shelves to make the most of the space above the garage door that is otherwise wasted.  No one likes wasted air, right?  ;)

After he made one shelf, he decided to get all fancy with some leftover stain on the next shelf:

If we are going to have a shelf it might as well be pretty :).  It is now storing three big bins of camping and other garage type stuff.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Light Switch cover

I have decided that the house remodel will be symbolically a success the exact moment there are no traces of "Bratz" on any area of this home.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What these random pictures mean.

One day Mr. Warmth says, "We need an outlet there (speaking of an exact position in a closet)."  Um, okay.  I know nothing about placing outlets, what is necessary, etc.  I go about my business cooking or cleaning or whatever needed done.

30 minutes later?  There was a brand new pretty white outlet in the wall right where he wanted it.  And he plugged something in.  And we've used it ever since.

Only one word came to mind:


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Keepin' it Going

In my opinion one of the toughest parts of remodeling houses as a family is the every day life.  Even if walls are taped in preparation of painting, even if floors are bare or furniture is moved into abnormal spots, even if there is nowhere to sit, the family in the home still needs to eat.

Clothes still get dirty, kids get especially dirty with construction going laundry and baths can't be missed.

And did I mention that despite whatever project you are doing, every few hours everyone asks, cries, and demands that they need to eat!

So, as the mom in this remodeling family the biggest or hardest chore isn't always the taping, the painting, or even the removal of old urine smells (ew!).  It is just to keep normal life going.  Writing it out seems so simple, but the living of it with 6 family members...not so much.

For me, its mental reminders that I give myself to keep us afloat.  Often, I'll look around and notice wallpaper removal still not finished, see dishes around the kitchen, see paper piled up, and realize dinner will be in a few hours.  If I am in the middle of a remodeling project this just seems daunting.  So it helps for me to pick a few priorities and start from there.

Dishes and Laundry are those for me.  If I'm not sure where to start, I start there.  No matter what needs done it is usually a good idea if I unload and then load the dishwasher, get it running, and then gather up the laundry to start a few loads - or take a clean load upstairs to put away.  Usually the momentum gives me the mental energy to do more things that need done, and if I simply can do nothing else I'll know we have clothes to wear and dishes to eat off of.

Have you ever been in this situation?  What helped you?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Garage Fan

We got new ceiling fans for the whole house--and even replaced one that they had left here.  It was old and rickety and made a lot of noise when it was on.  Instead of throwing it away my husband decided to put it in the garage for a little breeze when he is working out there.

Unconventional, yet useful!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

No New York

So the fame of the "controversy" came and went quickly, which was good.  When I stop eating and start running on adrenaline, it isn't good.  I like the (temporary) weight loss but the mental crap I deal with when it is over just ain't worth it.

I'm slowly coming down from that adrenaline high of being called every few minutes from a reporter or a relative who the reporter tracked down to find me.  When it came to a screeching halt, at first I was a little sad...not that the story was winding down - I was glad about that.  But sad, because the last network that called to ask questions dangled the idea of a Monday flight in and back to New York.  Something I've always wanted is to travel to NYC.  So, for about a couple of hours I thought someone else was going to make that dream come true :(.  But when she said they decided to drop the story I also realized I'd be here to take the kids to their first day of swim lessons Monday.  You win some and you win some.  My real life is the fabulous life.  And I can plan my own dang trip to New York someday complete with a fancy hotel stay and time to SHOP, people!  Much better!  Just more expensive ;).

Filling Me Up

For an introvert like I am, solitude is what "fills my well," and boosts me up when I feel stressed out.  When I have been in overwhelming life situations what my heart cries out to do is to go lose myself in a bookstore or library or hike for a few hours and hear the thoughts in my head.

It is kind of tough to do that now that I am a mom to four.  There are six people in our home, pure and simple.  As a kid I would escape to the quiet of my own bedroom to rejuvenate.  As we've moved and remodeled and remodeled and moved over the last few years "MY" room at any given time also functions to house other people, or at the least...other life functions like studying, exercise, baby changing, etc.

In order to be my best me, I  need to fit a few of those solitary hours into my week on an ongoing basis. With my personality it is just a need.  For the regular extrovert, I don't think it always makes sense.  When I am facing struggles, often a friend will suggest we spend an hour on the phone or we go out to a movie or something.  They mean well, but social interactions often raise my stress level another notch.  When it comes to my relationships with others I do much better on a side to side basis--accompanying one another in a normal life process such as watching our kids at the playground, working together on a charity project, or my favorite:  Exercising Together.  Some of the happiest and most fulfilling hours of my life in the last 5 years were spend briskly walking with my neighbors.  One of my goals this year is to find a way to duplicate that exercise plus excuse to socialize time into my days again.

I'm considering doing this by way of joining a gym (with childcare) and taking group fitness classes.  Do any of you have ideas of other ways to do this?  Or a way to combine other multiple life helps?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Damaged Carpet Removal

First:  Cut

Then:  Grab Plyers and pull...

Exclaim something...not profanity...if you can help it.

Next:  Hold your nose (this is important!  Trust us!)

Let the reality sink in...

Again...profanity is not encouraged.

Try, try, try to avoid it.

That might just be possible.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

DIY Playhouse Rugs

It's no secret that we have been desperately wanting in the market for carpet for some time (read: the WHOLE time) while we've been in this house.  As such, we've been going from store to store comparing colors and price tags, getting in-home measurements taken, etc.  Now that we've finally reached a decision and placed our order I decided I had no more need for the samples we'd been saving.

So....I offered them up to my daughters who just recently became the proud new owners of this bookshelf dollhouse.  A lady from church was giving it away and since we have ZERO furniture for the kiddos and few toys, I jumped at the offer.

To make rugs, the girls just layed out the samples in the patterns they liked and then turned them over and connected them with duct tape.

Voila!  I bet Barbie will be so glad to have that clean softness under her feet :)...

They also enjoy using the multitude of covered diaper box "baskets" we've created as playhouse decor.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

House Hunters (the rest of the story)

When I decided to share the info about our House Hunters experience with the lovely Julia at Hooked on Houses I had no idea there would be such an uproar.  I had a phone interview with someone at USA Today and she asked me why I'd kept it a secret this long...

A secret?  I've told anyone who was curious about the experience but honestly thought no one really cared that much.  It most certainly didn't seem like national news!  But I guess I was wrong!  Since I've seen 14 articles on the 'net now about it and about 80 tweets ( although I admit I don't really "get" twitter yet) I decided to address all the details here in one place.  I know its long but hopefully it answers all questions!

Can we watch the episode?
Yes.  I have it embedded RIGHT HERE on this blog.

When did it air?  I think it was Season 22, episode 17 or close to that.

Did the producers make up your storyline?

Yes, the producers did tell us how they wanted the story line to go.  When I applied for the show online the first thing they had us do was overnight them a video of us talking to the camera to see if we were "cute" enough and had fun talking to the camera.  (Back in VHS quick loading to youtube or anything ;).  So that was the number one thing they needed to determine.  Once we made that "cut" then they started asking us questions and planning the story line.

They liked the fact that my husband was a Realtor and they could play up me being a "difficult client" as well as us desperately needing a bigger house.  We just wanted to make our smaller house a rental (which is what we did--we still own it), but they just didn't like that (true) story so told us not to mention it and they actually set up the scene of me picking up the toys in the living room and telling them that it was just too small.  I personally never felt cramped in that house!  After filming the show, we sold that "winning" house (about 6 months later) and later moved to Nebraska and my husband went back to school.  We had two more children, became a family of 6 and lived in a tiny little student-housing town home.  When our friends in our "student" neighborhood saw the re-run and me talking about how the house was too small for us with just two kids they thought that was a riot :).

Is it normal for House Hunters subjects to view friends' homes like you did?

Us viewing our friends' homes has been a big shocker for people.  It wasn't ever intended to be that way, nor is it the norm.  The producers were relying on us to set up the homes to tour.  We called all over town to Realtors that had houses listed and we couldn't get anyone to agree to it.  They were all skeptical of our intentions.  I think they were afraid we'd show their house in a bad light.  Plus, the San Antonio real estate market was bustling at that time and no one needed free advertising...especially when the episode wouldn't air for 6 more months.  

The friends whose houses we toured were in the midst of working towards life changes (job promotions, out of state moves) and both thought they might be selling in the next few years--so it wasn't such a far stretch for them to want theirs featured.  In fact, one actually went on the market and sold before the show aired.  But no, it was not technically for sale at the time we toured it on camera.  And they were our good friends, so I'd been in the homes many times.

A lot of commenters have been so upset that it isn't real because we couldn't really critique our friends' homes.  That is true.  I didn't want them to be embarrassed.  But as hard as it was to convince anyone to let us tour their homes for the cameras I probably would have felt that way no matter what...if someone we didn't know had finally been talked into letting us film there.  I genuinely really liked each house, so I felt a level of honesty as I toured them, if that makes sense.

Are you worried this will hurt the show or HGTV?

I'd like to make clear that I love HGTV!  I am obsessed with houses.  As a family we have moved more years than we've been married (which is 13).  We love to fix them up, and my husband is super handy.  Most of my inspiration for this passion came from watching lots of HGTV when my first two kids were babies.  I had no intention to share this info to discredit the show HouseHunters or HGTV in general.  I think their practices are the only efficient way to handle a show such as this.  Could they really follow a couple around who looks at a few houses every weekend and 6 months later decides on one?  What if they changed their mind and decided to rent a few more years?  Since my husband was a very active Realtor for 4 1/2 years there in Texas I know that this is common.  NO ONE looks at 3 houses and then picks one and "gets the call" that it is theirs! without at least a little more drama.  I assume people know this. How could HGTV afford to keep flying the producer out, etc?  I think people just haven't realized this is purely entertainment and have a lot of expectations of "reality" for reality TV that would be nearly impossible or unaffordable to pull off.

(Updated thoughts HERE)

**I can be contacted for further information by email at**

Bare Naked Fireplace

I'm not sure if the google searchers I'll get will be worth the silly title...but whatevah!

We stripped that wall clean!  Well, except the residual wallpaper pieces...that we bought harsh chemicals to use yesterday.  Yeah, green--shreem!  Our wall paper is on there good, especially in the formal dining room (not pictured here).

This room is now more naked than ever, because we are treating the subfloors, preparing to paint/primer to seal them, but first of all:  A new fireplace surround is in the works.  I've been told by the artist-in-residence that it may or may not involve stones!  If you're lucky there might just be a "stone fireplace tutorial" in Western Warmth's future....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

These are a few of my Favorite Blogs

I like this one because she has a very similar life to me right now.  And she's very nice.

I like this one because she shared my story, and she seriously has the most interesting posts for those of us who are obsessed with houses.

I like this one because I like food and she's shared some of the most amazing recipes with me.  Oh, and she's a doctor on the side.  What?!?

I like this one because I have OCD and looking at these pictures is so soothing.  Organized houses, take me away!

I am always curious to see something new.  Tell me 
your favorite blogs!  

Dreams to Focus on

The next step after listing the 100 Dreams was to think of some I could currently work on--fit into the 168 hours I already have each week...

The big one I think I should and could work in is at least 4 hours of exercise per week.  It is necessary for my health anyway, and could help with the "baby weight" goal too.  A goal that could piggy back on that one is to join a gym where the childcare actually takes kids to activities for themselves like swimming lessons and dance classes.

Looks like I need to start looking around at local gyms.  And start considering my other dreams.  Honestly, I am lost on so many of them and knowing whether they really deserve time and attention in my life or need to be given up on.  Admittedly, the having 13 kids one...that was given up on long ago!  Like the day I had my first and realized what it was really like :).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wallpaper Removal attempt....

The product we tried:  

Here's my 2 cents.  There is only ONE way/product that will remove wallpaper.  All others (despite their claims) will fail and make you swear like a sailor till the early morn.


So buy one of these:

 Wagner Power Products 282018 1-Gallon Wallpaper Steamer 

Or:  Just spend 20 hours and $100 on other products before you go back and buy one of these in desperation!

Either way.

Your choice.