Restaurant Leftovers Makeover!

What do you do with restaurant leftovers? Or do you eat it all at the restaurant? I’m a small person, so half of a sit-down dinner is just about right for me. I take the other half home and anticipate the leftovers! Sometimes, I make over the rest of the food and turn into a dinner for two for David and me. Take a look:

These homemade croutons used to be leftover bread from a restaurant. Cubed,       brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with lemon pepper and toasted on a piece of foil in the toaster oven, these made a great addition to dinner.

I beefed up the risotto with extra cheese, milk, and chives, and it tasted great reheated!

Then the leftover half of a steak went into a small pot of vegetable soup with potatoes. The smokey flavor tasted just like the restaurant. This soup trick also works great for leftover burgers. It was yummy!

What do creative uses have you discovered for your restaurant leftovers?

Drug Store Purchase, Gift Shop Status

This jar of cranberry body wash was a project from last Christmas. My goal was to take a drug store product and elevate it to gift shop status. Although I don’t have step-by-step pics for this tutorial, I’ll list what I used as fuel for your imagination!

1. Washed, empty glass jar (I used was a salad dressing jar)

2. Spray paint

3. Body wash in a blasse plastic squeeze bottle

4. Ribbon, tags, other embellishments

Instructions: Lay newspaper down in the garage or back porch and spray paint the lid of the jar. Let dry overnight. Then squeeze the body wash into the glass jar. Create a label for your new product, using stamps, sticker labels, metal stamping, or whatever your heart desires. (I recycled part of a greeting card for my tag.) The possibilities are endless and can be used with lotions, bath salts, whatever you like. It’s a win-win: your recipient gets a lovely gift, and you get the joy of making something totally unique.

Embracing Stages

When I was engaged, my mother enjoyed telling me about how she and Dad first started out: Army quarters, velvet paintings and a souvenir sombrero on the walls, and termite-ridden rented furniture. And while I grinned and filed her stories somewhere in the back of my mind, she was really getting at something priceless: Stuff doesn’t equal happiness. When we bought our first home, I would realize how right she was.

Our place is a modest house, in a modest neighborhood—not new or impressive, but just perfect for starting out together.  Too soon after signing the mortgage papers, I felt the Stuff Monster starting to rear its ugly head as I surveyed the used carpet, the smallish backyard, the dented linoleum. Wouldn’t it be nice if . . . ? easily translates to so-and-so has such-and-such.

Stepping back from the “immediate upgrade” mentality took asking the question, “What really fuels our happiness?” As we held hands and looked around us, we knew that we were happy. We had God’s acceptance and grace, we had each other, and the chance to make a Home. And in order to make a home within our means, we willingly embraced the idea of stages. Here’s how we started out:

Stage One: Clean what you have. We had this linoleum that was a little beat up: lifting at the edges, scuffed in places. Right away, we started pricing tile and wondering what would happen if we tried to lay it ourselves. But on closer inspection, we saw that yes, the linoleum was old, but it was mostly just dirty. It probably hadn’t been scrubbed and sealed since the house was built ten or so years ago. It was so satisfying to see the amazing results of the clean linoleum that we just filled in the cracks with whiteout and put floor replacement in the “after-we-pay-off-the-mortage” category.

Stage Two: Start with a mock-up. After putting a fresh coat of cheerful light yellow paint in the living room, I started to look at reusing the frames we already owned to decorate the living room walls. After cutting new matts, painting frames, and putting in new art and pictures, I still had one largish, blank wall to conquer. What would go perfectly would be two large frames. The problem was that I wanted to make sure I was getting the perfect frames for the best value. So until I find them, I created a mock-up—an early version of the finished product. I started by wrapping two large poster boards in dark brown paper. Then I printed out six 8 x 10 pictures I had taken and layered them with 12 x 12 paper on the boards. Now, at very little cost and for little effort, I can see what two big frames would look like on that wall. I really like the effect so well my upgrade might be to nicer paper instead of to glass and wood!

Stage Three: Give yourself the time to recognize a true need or desire before plunging ahead with a purchase. Doing this really has made buying what I want all that much more enjoyable. For example, my photography-loving friends have been touting huge cameras for years and by 2008, the bug had bitten me too. I really wanted to take good pictures. So, embarrassing as it seemed, I started keeping David’s little Canon Powershot within arm’s reach at all times. And after a year’s time and having read the manual and exhausted my spectrum of settings, I was convinced that I was ready for the next step. I had gotten all the good out of what I had and knew that a better camera with more powerful settings was what I really wanted. So I did my research and bought a refurbished Nikon D40 from Newegg.com and haven’t looked back. That camera is well-loved and well-used, because by the time I bought it I knew I really wanted it.

What I’ve described is not the only good way of doing things. My slow, analytical method is natural to me and lots of other people have plenty of good approaches when it comes to taming the Stuff Monster. But this idea of embracing stages has been good for us. While it may not involve any velvet paintings or sombreros, Mom, I think you’d be proud.

Summer Beach Date

On chilly winter days, I like remembering some lovely cheap dates David and I shared last summer.

I packed up a picnic basket with a tablecloth, glasses, jar candle, fruit salad I made. Then we stopped at Moes’ and bought a Joey to split with chips and salsa. We set up our camping table on a quiet corner of the beach. (And here on the Emerald Coast, it’s easy to find a quiet corner!)

Then I set up the beach umbrella and attached battery-lit paper lanterns that I picked up at the dollar store.

The lantern colors even matched the umbrella!

We set up an ipod and cheapo portable speakers from Walmart.

Found: Recycled Craft blog

I subscribe to this awesome blog.  Part of the large picture of Craft Gossip, it’s the part that deals with what I love: turning trash into treasure. Here’s a thought: rather than spend time reading the newspaper or browsing news sites, why not set up a list of blogs that cover what you love and give your time to a “personalized paper” instead? I use Google Reader to do this; it’s simple to use and easy to set up. Maybe I’ll write another post on this sometime.

Photobook Ornament

I’ve been pretty pleased with Seehere‘s products and promotion. Fujifilm jumped into the online photo business, celebrating their entrance with  some great freebies and promotions over the holidays. I was a regular “customer” (although I’m not sure if that word applies since I was getting most of my stuff for free). This little photobook I did pay for though, and wasn’t too difficult to make using the site’s features. After I got it, my husband drilled a hole in the corner and I attached a length of velvet ribbon and some wire-and-bead accents that I found in one of my scrapbooking drawers. Simple, small, and very doable.

Welcome

Hello, and welcome to my new blog. Over the years, I have really benefited from free tutorials and ideas from magazines and creative friends. Seeing something and then being able to turn it into your own craft is really satisfying. These were the major motivations behind starting this blog. As a young wife, I’m always looking for thrifty ways to decorate my home, organize my stuff, and bless my husband and family. What I find I want to share here. My goals are to post at least once a week, to keep posts short, and to use lots of pictures. I’ll included posts about recycled crafts, step-by-step pictures of craft projects, reviews of blogs, websites, and apps that I like, how to turn ordinary objects into beautiful or useful objects, pictures of cheap dates, and throw in an occasional article and vblog. How’s that sound?