30 Apr 2012

Just Another Meatless Monday

I wish it was Sunday 'cause that's my fun day. 

You're welcome. 

Just another 80's song to get stuck in your head. Go ahead, sing out loud....pretend the windows are rolled down and the sun is shinning, and the guy sitting next to you at the red light isn't starting at you like you've lost your marbles.  Oh, maybe that's only me they stare at? I sing louder now that I have a kid. Sometimes it works to stop her from yelling (she's yelling out loud about how the heck this crazy woman could possibly be her mother) and other times it just drowns her out.

Ok, getting back on topic.. Meatless Mondays. 

We meal plan in our house.  We have to, or we will be eating Wendy's salads and PB&J sandwiches all week long.  We usually sit down on Sunday and make out a plan through to Wednesday or Thursday, and then attempt to do all of the groceries for the week some time on Sunday.  We have a board in our kitchen that is dedicated to our menu for the week, so everyone knows what's what for the week ahead.

Meal Planning Chalk Board

I know of some families that find it helpful to follow a formula for meal planning (slow cooker Tuesday, chicken Wednesday, etc) but that's a bit too much for us.  We still like to at least pretend like we are go with the flow people some of the time.  What we have tried to stick to every week though is Meatless Monday. We are too carnivorous to commit to the whole day, but we do a veggie dinner every Monday night. It's a good excuse to try a new recipe or two every month and to explore some ingredients that we don't tend to use on a regular basis.  

Although vegetarian meals usually seem like a healthy alternative, many of them are still quite high fat and are loaded with cream and other unhealthy fats.  We at least attempt to eat a fairly clean diet in our house and try to feed Fin as many whole foods as possible. That means, that as much as I may want to, we try to not eat popcorn for dinner on Meatless Mondays and instead I try and search out new and healthy recipes.  The other bonus about meatless night is that it usually tends to be our least expensive meal of the week.  Free range chicken is stupid expensive these days (dumb birds need to roam around on some expensive land apparently), so if we can get our hands on some tofu for just over a dollar we are a happy family. 

Some of our current favorites in the meatless rotation are Moni's Quinoa Mac & Cheese (check it out, it's so delicious!), Spinach and Feta Frittata (from my head), and Butternut Squash Risotto (from the Eat Clean Diet Stripped).  One of our all time favourites though is Parma Chameleon (decoded it's tofu Parmesan) from the Eat, Shrink & Be Merry cookbook by Janet & Greta Podleski.  I contacted Janet and Greta and asked if I could share this veggie recipe with you readers and much to my astonishment they replied (love it when people reply) and said I could share away.  Ok, before you turn your nose up at it and say "ewww...tofu, I don't eat tofu", just give it a chance.  I actually sort of like tofu. Mr. Swell could take it or leave it, but he loves this recipe and even looks forward to the leftovers on Tuesday.  I actually think Fin is a vegetarian at heart (which I guess is to be expected since she only started eating meat a few months ago) and she loves this dish.  We get out the handy dandy immersion blender and puree it up for her and she gobbles it down.  The sauce and breadcrumbs do a great job of hiding the tofu. I bet you could serve it and some diners would even mistake it for chicken.  

On a somewhat related side note....since we are talking about Parma Chameleon. Does anyone know if Chameleons actually make sounds? Fin's current obsession is our calendar on the fridge. It's a freebie one we got from Telus, and has an animal on each month.  She loves to flip through each month and listen to Mr. Swell and I make the animal sounds that go with the picture. October is Chameleons. 


Seriously? I am supposed to make a Chameleon sounds? I have no idea what Chameleons sound like, so every time we get to October I break out singing Karma Chameleon by Culture Club. Could someone please help a girl out here? If not for me, just think of my poor daughter who is going to grow up thinking Chameleons are actually 80s British pop stars.

But I digress..,

Without further adeu, here is the recipe.

Parma Chameleon
From Eat, Shrink & Be Merry
Makes 4 servings

Olive Oil Cooking Spray
1 lb (454 g) firm tofu (I always buy extra firm if I can find it)
1 cup fresh whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 tsp each dried basil and dried oregano
1/4 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
1 1/2 cups of your favorite tomato pasta sauce, divided
1/2 cup packed shredded light mozzarella cheese (2 oz/57g)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a non-stick baking sheet with olive oil spray and set aside.

Drain liquid from tofu and blot dry with paper towels.  Slice block into 6 to 8 equal slices, about 1/2 inch thick.  Lay slices on paper towels and blot again.

Combine bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.  Place egg in another shallow bowl and beat lightly with a fork.

Working one piece at a time, dip tofu in egg and then in crumb mixture.  Make sure both sides are well coated with the crumb mixture.  Place on cookie sheet.  Repeat with remaining tofu pieces. (Don't worry if you have some crumbs left over - you'll use them later.)  Spray the tops of tofu with olive oil spray.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Using a spatula, gently turn pieces over.  Bake an additional 8 minutes. Remove tofu from oven but leave oven on.

Spray a medium casserole dish with cooking spray.  Spread 1/2 cup of pasta sauce over bottom of dish.  Lay browned tofu pieces in dish close together and in a single layer if possible.  Top with remaining pasta sauce, followed by mozzarella, remaining Parmesan cheese, and parsley.  If you have any crumbs left over, sprinkle them over the entire dish.  Bake, uncovered for 15 minutes.  Turn broiler on and broil about 4 inches from heat source for 2 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Here's what our version looks like:

Tofu Parmesan - Eat, Shrink & Be Merry
Vegetarian Tofu Parmesan - Eat, Shrink & Be Merry

You can read more about Janet & Greta Podleski, and find more recipes at www.janetandgreta.com

Seriously, don't be afraid of tofu. Give it a shot.  

Do you do Meatless Mondays? Do you have any favourite vegetarian dishes? 

I announced the winner of the Lucy Snowe giveaway. Check here to see if you won.

27 Apr 2012

Lacey End Table Tutorial

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I was thinking of using coral as an accent colour in the office (read more on that here). Before I commit to it totally, I thought I'd try a small piece of furniture to see if I like the colour enough to move forward. I redid an old table that we had hanging around, and with a little paint turned it into this:

Lacey End Table - Ikea Lack Hack with caption

I started out with an Ikea LACK table - yup, the cheapest table at Ikea.  I had one hiding in my basement that was left over from my years as a student, but if you don't have one they are only $9.99 at Ikea.

Lack Table in Basement ASPTD

I removed the legs from the top and gave all pieces a coat of spray primer.  I like Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch, but any brand will work.

Table Primed ASPTD

To save money on the top coat of paint I went to Home Depot and bought a Behr tester pot for $4.99.  Home Depot is great for this because they will mix any colour for you into a tester pot.  I chose to go with  Behr's Indian Dance, which is a bright coral.

Behr Indian Dance ASPTD

I then used a foam roller to apply 2 coats of the paint to the table and legs. The work bench worked great for holding the legs so I could paint all sides at once and didn't have to keep running back out to the garage to the flip the legs around.

Table Painted Coral ASPTD

Now comes the fun part - the lace.  I found a piece of lace at Fabricland in the discount section for only $2 a meter.  You can't beat that!  It was fairly Grandma-ish, but since I wasn't going be using the actual lace in the end, I figured it was ok.  Fabricland has some really nice summer lace in right now, but it's quite expensive ($20 a meter expensive - too much).  If you tackle this project in the fall you might be able to catch the summer stuff on sale.

I cut the lace a bit bigger than the table top and then placed it on top, wrapping the ends underneath so it stayed tight.  If you have a short piece of lace you could always tape it to the sides instead of wrapping it around, but I wasn't patient enough to let the paint dry enough to do that!

Table Wrapped in Lace

I had some high gloss white spray paint left over from another project, but if you don't have any hanging around, you could use the primer again so that you don't have to buy another can of spray paint.  The primer will just give a more matte finish instead of a gloss.  The tricky part here is to spray from directly above and to try and be as even as possible.  Unfortunately I was using the very last bits of a can of spray paint and it started to sputter on me just before I was done.  The sputtering caused some blotchyness, but since this table is going to have stuff on it (no empty tables in our house) I think you won't even notice it in the end. Before the spray paint dried I carefully removed the lace, trying not to smudge any paint in the process.

Table wtih Lace Paint ASPTD
I then touched up the sides with the coral again since some of the white spray paint drifted, and then reattached the legs.  

Voila - a custom lace table that doesn't look anything like its original self.

finished table

Lace Close Up

What do you think of the colour? I like it, but think it might be a bit too peach/orange for the space we have. I am thinking I'll go a bit darker for the rest of the room and maybe use Mesa Sunrise or Fireglow for some of the art projects.

24 Apr 2012

A Pretty Place to Work and Play

The living room is done and we are moving on to.....the office.

Right now we have a very nonfunctional work space.  It's basically just a desk and some other crap thrown into a corner and we call it the 'office'.

desk and office chair

Not very pretty, right?  There is really nothing office-ish about it. It's mostly leftover stuff from both of our single days and it is right next to the TV, which makes it very hard to concentrate when doing important things such as taxes (which I did last week - ugh, they SUCK - maybe next year I'll be rich enough to pay an accountant....come on blog baby...make mama some money! That's another topic for another day....).

Anyhow, we have been working on finishing our basement for the last 2 years (longest and most frustrating project E-V-E-R) and I think we are done enough to move the computer and related accessories into the new office space.  It's a fairly blank canvas right now.

Office Space in Basement 

The walls in the basement are painted Spartan Stone by Behr (sort of a khaki green) and we've already wallpapered the office area in a vinyl grass-cloth.

wall paper 

Mr. Swell hung the ceiling a few weeks ago - so happy to finally have a ceiling as we've been staring at beams and wires for months.  I don't love the hung ceiling but it was the best of our options, and at least it covers the ugliness, so I'm grateful for that.

I am going to start doing some more work from home very soon, so the rush is now on to create a functional space that allows me to be organized, and to actually focus on work when I'm working and not get distracted by the TV (I have a hard time resisting TV, it sucks me in).  We are in need of a new desk and some shelving to store our files and related junk.

Here's the problem though...

We don't have a big house, so unfortunately we can't dedicate this room entirely to office work.  It also needs to function as Fin's playroom and as possibly a guest room down the road (i.e .must contain a pull out couch). I am sure as time goes on and Fin gets better at hucking her toys (I can already assure you that she will do that - it's just her personality) I will find toy odds and ends combined with my work contracts.  So as much as I want the space to be pretty and work inspiring (as if anything can be work inspiring) it needs to also be uber functional.  And it's going to be my goal in life (or at least the next year) to keep this place organized, otherwise I will be spending an hour when I am actually supposed to be working, at just trying to find my contracts!

Since this is going to be mostly a girly domain I think I am going to take the opportunity to introduce a girly colour scheme.  I am waffling between plum and coral, but as of right now I am leaning quite strongly towards the coral.  For the little amount of time that Mr. Swell will spend in there he can suck it up and deal with the coral..  Won't coral be an inspiring colour scheme for him while he shops online for power tools?  Milwaukee red and coral match - at least that is what I tell him.  The rest of our house is very gender neutral - I don't subject him to florals or bright pink walls, so this will be the exception.

I got inspired one night and whipped up a mood board. Doesn't that make me sound like I know what I am doing? "Oh, I'll just make a mood board for that".  I am sure I will still totally fly by the seat of my pants, but the mood board did help me explain my vision to Mr. Swell. And when I come home from work at the end of the day with another brilliant idea for a new project that I must do right this instant, my lovely husband can remind me of this mood board and tell me to harness my new ideas and stick to the plan.

Mood Board-Office

This is strictly for the little nook that will serve as the office.  The play area deserves its own mood board one day in the future (it's ok, I am that good - I can just whip up another one!). The first step in this room is going to be the desk and the shelving, which is all coming from Ikea.  I am trying desperately to find used white Billy Bookcases on Kijiji to cut down the cost significantly but am not having any luck. If anyone has a lead on a couple bookcases please let me know as I would very much like to stop stalking Kijiji for them.  After the desk is done then I get to move on to all of the fun stuff like art work and accessories, which is much more fun than putting together Ikea furniture.

22 Apr 2012

A Swell Giveaway: Lucy Snowe Photography

Congratulations to comment #7, jsize(at)hotmail(dot)com who won the 2 prints from Lucy Snowe.

It's finally here! I have been so excited about this giveaway that I have barely been able to sleep.  I stumbled upon Lucy Snowe and her fabulous photography while perusing Etsy late last year and fell instantly in love.

It was this guy that got me:
Bison Buffalo Art  for Him Animal Art Rustic Decor Buffalo in the Snow 8x12 fine art photography

He's proudly in our living room now with two of his buffalo friends.  You can see more of the living room reveal here.

1 Buffalo Lucy Snowe ASPTD
We live in the city, but this reminds me of the country and of a simpler life.  Bison just look so powerful and masculine to me, and I knew instantly that the picture would bring something unique to our living room.  I thought about it for about a week (because I am just that way - have to justify everything) and finally Mr. Swell told me to just buy them so that I could stop talking about beautiful bison all day long! I worked with Lucy to find 3 bison that would look good together, placed my order and then waited anxiously for it to arrive. Lucy's service was second to none - she responded super quick to my emails and shipped the prints at lightning speed.  They arrived within a few weeks (would have been here faster if it wasn't for customs), and I had my shiny new Ikea frames out and ready to receive them.  I change my mind about a lot of things in our house, but I haven't wavered once on these babies once.  I can't get enough of them.

Now one of you will get to have some lovely Lucy Snowe Photography in your house too!  Lucy has generously agreed to give away two 11" X 14" prints to one lucky winner (insert the dance for joy here!).  The best part of all, is that the winner gets to pick their prints out of Lucy's huge selection of fabulous photos.
If you're into animals maybe you'll go for this quirky little Guinea Hen - one of my new faves.  Wouldn't he be cute in a kitchen?


Or maybe these horses....

il_570xN.257013346 il_570xN.271480221  

How about the cow or sheep?  These would work great in a gender neutral nursery.

il_570xN.296198633 il_570xN.326890275

Or if animals aren't your thing, check out these beautiful flowers; so nice and springy.

il_570xN.322247677 il_570xN.311628525

Lucy also has some great landscape pics.  If spring hasn't quite arrived yet where you live (we still have patches of snow...), at least you can dream of someplace warm.

il_570xN.324132439 il_570xN.257746051  

There are also some great mid-century modern prints to choose from , if that's more your style.

il_570xN.247187578 il_570xN.276669884   

Lucy's photos would also make a great Mother's Day gift...hint, hint.

Here's the fine print on how to enter:
  • PRIZE: Two 11"X14" prints, including shipping.
  • TO ENTER: Visit Lucy Snowe Photography on Etsy here, pick your favourite and then come back here and leave a comment telling us what you've chosen.
  • ADDITIONAL ENTRY: For a second entry, link this giveaway on either Facebook or Twitter, then leave a second comment telling us that you did so (or link to both if you really want to shout it from the rooftops, but only one additional entry is permitted).  There are handy little buttons below for Facebook and Twitter - just click them and it will connect you.
  • GIVEAWAY CLOSES: Saturday April 28, 2012 at 6pm MDT.
  • PRIZE SHIPS TO: Canada or the United States.
If your blog is private, or you comment anonymously please be sure to leave your email address with your comment.  Use (at) and (dot) so that the lovely spammers (ugh, annoying spammers) don't glom onto your email (eg. aswellplacetodwell(at)gmail(dot)com).

Ready, Set, Gooooooooooooo

20 Apr 2012

Living Room Reveal

It's official - I am declaring the Living Room complete. For now anyway. I am sure I will still change a few small things, but the majority of the redo is behind us now.

couch & pictures

You've seen many of the projects as we went along, but I haven't yet posted any pictures of the whole room in all its glory.

We've struggled with our living room since we moved into our house 2 1/2 years ago.  The big thing that we hate with all of our might is the dumb diagonal line that the carpet follows - which defines the space.  And by 'define' I mean that it makes it impossible to have a workable furniture arrangement.

diagonal line ASPTD

We redid the carpet about 2 years ago, and as much as we really wanted to redo the diagonal living room at the time, we just didn't have the funds to put a different flooring throughout the whole lower level (and the walls don't allow for a straight line option).  Changing the lino and the carpet out to laminate is in the plan, and will hopefully happen before the end of the year.  I think once that happens, we will be able to shift some of the chairs around a bit to make the space more usable.  Mr. Swell has had his eye on this chair from Urban Barn for almost a year now and I've promised that once we don't have a diagonal carpet line we might be able to find space for it.  Then he can stop sitting in it for extended periods of time when we go into Urban Barn (i.e. he sits and I haul Fin around looking at all of the other pretty stuff).

Belvedere Recliner - Snow White
Urban Barn

I really wish I had some better before pictures of the living room, but I totally forgot to take them! Flake. I dug these ones up though, but they aren't the greatest (maybe it'll just make the after look better...). As you can see, the house was a disaster; we had been drinking some wine and our kid has no pants on (but she does have a diaper) - just another night at our house. You can get the idea though.

Ok, enough chit chat. Here are all of the pictures and the details.....


Living Room Before 3 ASPTD

Living Room Before 1 ASPTD

Livin Room Before 2 ASPTD

And After:

couch & pictures
Sofa: Ikea Kivik in Tullinge Dark Brown (found in the As-Is section for $150 off - we still have no idea why it was there as it's perfectly fine). Bison photos: Lucy Snowe Photography.  White square frames: Ikea Vireseum.  Throw pillows: most of them my Mom sewed for me (I don't sew...yet), the fabric is from Fabricland's bargain section.  Plant: Fergus the Fiddle Leaf Fig - read more about him here.  Red Lamp: My refinished Mad Men Lamp - read more about it here.  White end table: from my in-law's garage - read about the transformation here.  Grey wall colour: Benjamin Moore Rockport Grey.  Brown wall colour: Benjamin Moore Classic Brown.

Credenza: bought at an auction and refinished - read about the buying experience here and the refinishing here.  Repair Your Broken Wings picture: Urban Barn (no longer available).  Elephant bookends - DIY, read more about those little guys here.  Orchid: Home Depot.  Orchid Pot: Ikea (no longer available). Blue Greece Canvas: hauled it home from Santorini last year.

 yellow end table and entry
Pallet wall hanging: DIY, you can read about it here and here. Yellow end table: see the transformation here.  Butterfly pictures: Decor Steals.  Hall table: Canadian Tire (no longer available).  Brown leather chair: The Brick.

view from the stairs
Curtains: Urban Barn Cache sheer drapery panel in cream. Curtain rod: Umbra bought at Urban Barn. Diefenbaker's dog bed: my Mom made it for him - you can read about it here.

Living Room Pillows

Credenza Stuff

Fin really likes the new living room! My God she is one busy kid....these photos were all taken in the span of about 5 minutes.

hiding behind curtain
Playing with Butterflies

She wants our wedding cake topper (the two little people - from Lollipop Workshop) so bad that she can't handle it. It's her mission in life these days, which means that soon I am going to have to hide it (which makes me very sad because I love it so much!).

trying to get cake topper

So that's it! I am very happy its done and we can now move onto another room.

Linking to:

Funky Junk Interiors

RemodelaholicSupporting Habitat for HumanityThrifty Decor Chick

18 Apr 2012

Project Pallet: Part 2

When we left you last time we had acquired the pallets, beat the crap out of them, and sanded all of the boards. If you need a memory refresher you can read Part 1 here.

The boards were looking good after the sanding but they didn't have as much character as we hoped they would (they must have been 'gently' used pallets).  To add a bit of depth we used old rags to rub Tunge Oil into each board.

Tunge Oil ASPTD

Apparently I only snapped a shot of the French side of the tin! For those of you reading outside of Canada, most things here have both French and English on them and I picked the wrong side. Anyhow, it says Minwax Tunge Oil on the English side.

The oil did exactly what we wanted it to; it enriched the tone of the wood and made it look just a little bit more sophisticated.

Oiled Pallet Boards ASPTD

Once all the boards were oiled we arranged them a bit like a jigsaw puzzle trying to find the boards that fit together the best and left the least amount of gaps.  Gaps were inevitable as the boards are pretty knotty and warped, but we didn't want any gaping holes.  

Once arranged we measured the total height and then used the saw to cut two more planks down to the right height to use as backing strips.  Then Mr. Swell got to pull out his air nailer (he's totally obsessed with it and will use any excuse to pull it out) to nail the boards onto the two backing strips. 

Nailing Pallet Boards ASPTD

This should really go without saying, but if you are new to an air nailer please be careful to make sure your hands are out of the way before you go on a nailing spree.

Here's how the back looked after all of the boards were nailed on:

Pallet Backing ASPTD

At this point I think just leaving it as is and hanging it on the wall would have been ok. We decided though that we'd like to be able to put some pictures and nic knacks on the wall as well, so we went about adding some shelves.

During the 'destruction of the pallet' phase we had a board split down the middle so it was too small for the backing, but would make a perfect shelf. We sawed the board (just eyeballed it, no exact measurements needed here) and decided where to place the 2 shelves.  Then ensued a lengthy debate on how to attach them.  If we had been thinking ahead, we would have sandwiched the shelves between the boards before nailing them onto the backing strips.  That way the boards could have just held the shelves in place. But, we weren't that smart. I didn't want to see any brackets, and glue wasn't going to be strong enough, so we finally decided to just nail them in on an angle and pray to the heavens that they would be strong enough. We picked out the two thickest boards from the backing (so that the shelves would have something to rest on) and then used way more nails than we probably needed to secure them.  

Pallet Shelves ASPTD

I sprayed the whole thing with a wood varnish to protect it and give it just a hint of sheen.

Rona Varnish - ASPTD

The last thing we needed was a way to hang this sucker.  We nailed on another little piece of plank at the top and attached a picture hanging strip.
Pallet Hanger ASPTD

Then it was ready to make its way into the house and adorn our wall.  

Pallet On Wall ASPTD

And get dressed up

Dressed Pallet ASPTD

Pallet Close Up ASPTD

Pallet 1 ASPTD

Pallet 3 ASPTD

Very happy that my butterfly pictures have a new home and don't look lost on the wall any longer.

Would you believe that it all started with a pallet laying in a lumber yard for free?

Update: 2 days after the pallet went up it feel down! Thankfully nothing broke, but the wall did get a bit banged up. It didn't have anything to do with our construction; it was the hanger that failed.  The little gold nails that came with the hanger strip weren't strong enough to hold the pallet. We've added another strip and used some longer nails and all is now good.

Linking to:
Not Just a Housewife
The Shabby Creek Cottage
Funky Junk Interiors
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