Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Until Then - Try This! Personalized Typography Wall Art

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Hello all!  We have so many irons in the fire around here.  Projects just waiting for it to be "their time" and become our focusThey are going to have to wait.  We just finished a big project at The Hardscrabble Home.  Well, part of a project, there is still a bit more to do, but we are tired.  To that end, my guy and I are committed to being slackers this week and we are going to take it all the way through the weekend(Or so we say now, the two of us seldom sit still for long.

This means:
  1. Old wooden headboard/footboard I took with permission from my neighbor's garbage, you will have to wait to be turned into that double rocking chair for the front porch.
  2. You three 20+ year old ladder back stools we are going to turn into one long bench, you will have to cool your rungs awhile longer.  Your day will come.
  3. Wall lights that were originally dark that I bought and spray painted silver three years ago but now want dark again.  Well, you are going to have to hang there looking all shiny for a tad more time.  
  4. Wicker chairs that were once white, then red and now are black, well, you can breathe easy because your time on the porch has been extended.  (See #1 for the reason why you've earned a reprieve.)
  5. Grandma Lucy's buffet and hutch.  Hutch, you sit quietly behind and across the room from me right now.  Patiently waiting, waiting for your makeover to be finished.  I have your sides, back and the top half of your front completed.  Your doors though are not.  You are doing your job, holding my best dishes, and wondering where your counterpart - the buffet is right this minute.   Well, rest assured that Phoebe the Buffet is safe, sound and still on the premises.  She is just taking longer to finish than I anticipated.  It takes a lot of elbow grease to remove the circa 1970's furniture revamp that my grandma did on you both.  Phoebe will be back soon and the two of you together will grace the dining area with your pal, the table once again.  Actually, looking over my shoulder I see that the only thing I have left to do to you Hutch is one more coat of paint and a layer of stain to your doors.  So, I promise that you will be finished by Easter.  Phoebe won't be though unless it warms up and starts feeling like Spring.
  6. Super fantastic idea that I imagined this morning in my head, have no idea yet, but I'm coming to get you...this weekend.  YOU are my next big project.  YOU are going to cost me pennies to make.  YOU are going to be pretty much made from all recycled materials.  YOU will be awesome.   At least in my head, I picture you to be super fantastic and I don't even know exactly what you look like now.  All I am going on is the description I received of you from one of my brothers in law.  I have your dimensions and a general idea of what you look like.  When he offered you to me, (because like us, he hates waste, too) I didn't hesitate to say yes.  You are going to be great! 

Okay, little blog.  I will not turn you into a "Wait and See What I Do Next!" teaser blog.  Though I could post the wonderful Honey Caramelized Onion and Bacon Tart I made last night, I won't.  Food was my last topic.  Today we are going to take a look at a simple, inexpensive, and fun piece of wall art that you can make yourself. I saw this one online about a year ago and immediately set to work making one for our home.  Here's mine.

I saw the original project at My 3 Monsters Blog .  She has a wonderful tutorial on how to do it.  I followed her instructions and had this project completed in an afternoon.  It could have taken less time but there are so many letters you can choose from to use, that you kind of get lost in time looking through them all.  

I created mine in Microsoft Picture It.  Then I uploaded it to Walgreens and had a poster printed.  It was ready within an hour.  The frame I bought at Hobby Lobby.  This was a fun and inexpensive project to doWe love it.

My future daughter in law Heather made one for her parents this past Christmas for their gift.  They loved it, too.  Here's a picture of hers.  I had her text me a picture of it before she wrapped it, the picture is a little grainy
There you have it.  It's another "live frugal but make it look like you aren't" project.  Now go make yourself one.

Stay tuned for projects #1 - 6.  They'll be coming at you soon, but probably not in the order listed.     Pin It

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars With Pretzel Streusal

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 It was weekly baking time here at The Hardscrabble Home the other day.  Gone were the last of the lemon squares I made last week.  (No, I didn't post that one, but I will soon.)  I looked through my family cookbook (I'll show you that soon, too) and came up with nothing but bits and pieces of other recipes that I thought could all come together to make one really good recipe.  So, that's what I did.  

I mulled over some ideas in my head and called my fellow baker Kimmie.  Kimmie is known for her awesome pie baking skills.  That and her past ability to sneak up silently (like a ninja) behind an unsuspecting coworker and scare the living daylights out of them (me).  Those were the days!   

I told her what I had in mind with the four distinct layers of this dessert.  Then together she and I talked it through, tweaked it here and there and came up this...behold the good-lookingness of this sweet treat.... 
  See the different layers?  Yum.
I took parts of three different recipes to come up with this one.  I used the base of a lemon square.  The cream cheese layer came from my Aunt Lorraine's strawberry pretzel dessert recipeHer recipe also inspired the pretzel streusal as a topping.  The apple and caramel layers were inspired by an apple pizza recipeSo, much inspiration, a little imagination and some additional tweaking by Kimmie & Steffie made this recipe successful.    

Without further ado, here is our recipe for:

Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Pretzel Streusal
by The Hardscrabble Home 

The Base: 
2 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup melted unsalted butter  
  1. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  1. Mix together flour, powdered sugar and melted butter.
  2. Press the dough into the bottom of your pan, forming a crust.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and ready your cream cheese layer.

Cream Cheese Layer: 
2 - 8 oz. softened Cream Cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla 
  1. Using electric mixer, mix cream cheese with sugar and vanilla.   
  2. Spread gently over the shortbread base (which at this point has cooked for 15 minutes.)

Apple Layer:
4 Apples
3 T. flour
1/2 cup brown sugar 
  1. Peel and dice four apples.  I used what I had on hand which was Red Delicious.  Others prefer different types of apples to use for baking, but Red Delicious is what I usually buy and it works well for me in baking.  But, it's "Baker's Choice" when it comes to the apples.
  2. Toss the apples with flour and brown sugar.  
  3. Arrange apple mixture over the cream cheese layer.

Pretzel Streusal:
Mini Pretzels approx.40
1/2 cup flour
1/8 cup brown sugar 
4 T. unsalted butter 
  1. Crush pretzels.  You want about a cup of them, more or less depending on your streusal preferance.  
  2. Mix one cup of crushed pretzels with flour and brown sugar.  Add unsalted butter to pretzel mixture and work it together with your hands or a pastry cutter, but hands work best.
  3. Sprinkle pretzel streusal over apple layer.
  4. Place pan back into 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Once baked, cut into bars, cool slightly, and cut into bars.
Caramel Ice Cream Topping
Sea Salt
  1. Drizzle caramel sauce (I used jarred sauce but feel free to make your own if you have a good recipe for it) and then add a few cranks of sea salt over it all.  
That is it.  You are all done and ready to dig in.  I didn't try freezing this one because I gave half of the pan away to taste testers.  They loved it.  I hope you do, too!  

Here's one more look... 
And one more for good measure...
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Monday, March 11, 2013

A Dollar Well Spent...

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Like a lot of you probably are, I am a Mom.  Long after the potty training ends you still find yourself asking your children, "Did you wash your hands?" upon their exit from the bathroom.  "Yesss, Mommmm" is the usual response followed by eye rolling.  Can't say I blame them...two of mine are in their 20's.  Old habits die hard for Moms.  They shouldn't feel targeted though because I am their Mom and they will forever be my children.  It's not just them I wonder about in the handwashing department.  I wonder about EVERYBODY'S handwashing skills.  Seriously, I do.  

Admit it, you've probably been in a public restroom and seen somebody exit without stopping at the sink.  Yuck, I know.  I want to say, "Ew Wash your hands sicko!" but, I don't.  I refrain.  I think it though. 

Back to our own abode, I get tired of repeating myself.  (Although, sometimes I forget what I say five minutes after I say it, so inevitably I DO repeat myself, a LOT.)   I decided it was time to place a gentle reminder for all of the visitors to the smallest room of our house.  

I  set my budget for this project low.  $1.00 plus change.  Yes, that is the budget.  This is where the "live frugal but make it look like you aren't" part of our blog factors in. 

I headed out to the Dollar Tree to pick out a frame.  It's shiny, pretty and it doesn't look cheap. 

Once home and after I got all of the glue gunk off of the frame from the sticker, I set to work on the computer making up my little message to go inside.

I used the font Tangerine for my lettering.  Not too fancy but not too plain either.  I added a scrolled decorative line between the two sentences.  Cute!
Once I was satisfied with the way I had it designed, I printed it out and cut it down to size.  I nestled it into it's little frame and it proudly sits on our bathroom sink.

Want to see it?  Here she is in all her beauty...
 ^ That is not our sink it is sitting on.  It would be cool if it was, but it isn't.  Can you imagine a brick sink?  Me either.  Well, I can imagine it, but I'm not sure if there is such a thing.It is actually sitting on our hearth because the lighting was better there.  

*Quick Google search reveals there IS such a thing as a brick sink.  Bricks and Me have a love/hate relationship right now.  You'll read more about that in the future here. 

There you have it.  The best dollar I ever spent until the day I win the lottery.    Get busy and make yourself one.  Just remember to wash your hands first.  

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Robin Tried To Kill Me But Got My Camera Instead

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If this is not your first visit here then you've probably read my complaints about my camera.  Or rather, lack of a camera thanks to a certain Robin.  

Look at her shifty eyes.  She's watching you.  Or he, I can't tell the difference.  This isn't the actual bird but close enough. 
It all started in May of 2012.  

Mr. Me and I were sitting on the front porch one night counting how many cars don't come to a complete stop at our corner.  It's a fun little game we play every year as soon as the weather warms.  It's not a drinking game, because we'd be blitzed within five minutes.  UNLESS, we drank every time a car actually stopped.  Then we'd be left with full but flat glasses of whatever beverage we have in hand at the end of the night.  Nobody.  Stops.  They roll.  

As we are enjoying our game, one of us stands up (I can't remember which one of us) and notices that some little mother had made herself the most perfect nest in the middle of a metal wall basket full of fake flowers we had hanging on the porch.  

Look at it!!  Have you seen a nest so perfect before in your life?  She even CENTERED it!  Gorgeous!
It's so perfectly formed and tightly woven.  You'd swear we had bought it and placed it there.  But, we didn't.  A little birdie made it.  

The fact that it was so perfect and so centered should have tipped us off that we weren't dealing with your average run of the mill Robin but we were dealing with a Super Robin!   The Martha Stewart of Robins.  One who is capable of weaving such a glorious nest but who also had street cred.  She wasn't afraid that it was only hanging up there by one skinny penny nail stuck in the vinyl siding.  Guts, that's what this Robin had.

A few days later we peeked outside and saw this...
Momma nesting.  I snapped that picture through the front doorSeeLook at that picture.  I wasn't kidding when I said it was hanging on one skinny little nail.  Brave bird!

Each night we would go outside to sit on the porch like Ma's and Pa's do all over this great land of ours.  (We really need rocking chairs on the front porch and plan on making a double rocker from a wood bed our neighbor threw in the trash.  All in due time.  You'll be the first to know when it's finally done.Some nights, she'd fly off the porch as soon as we started to open the door.  Other nights, we'd wait until she left before we would go out.  

One evening we came outside and noticed we had babies in there.  Check them outThey are so cute!! 
Each night we would cohabit peacefully together on the porch.  She would either let us walk past her or she'd fly back to her nest once she realized we meant her no harm.  

Some nights, however, when it was just me and her alone out there, she'd go alpha-bird on me and try to dive bomb my head approaching me from behind and to the side so I wouldn't see her coming.   It must have been a female thing, because she never tried that with my husband.  She'd go after the mail lady, too, but strangely never the UPS guy.  Hhmmm...

The days progressed and I went out there one evening determined to get a few more pictures.  I stood on the front sidewalk with my camera poised ready to snap some shots.  I was a good 15 feet or so away from her.  Maybe more.  All of a sudden, she was like Sean Penn in a pack of paparazzi.  (What a dated reference, huh?  Showing my age maybe?)  She went on FULL ATTACK.  If she could have grabbed my camera and thrown it at me, I swear she would have.  She literally tried to kill me.  Yes, literally.  At that moment, I felt like my life, my entire being, was being threatened.  I screamed, jumped and DROPPED MY CAMERA!  

It broke.  The camera was no more and I was "no more" on that sidewalk.  I was safely in the house having run around the house and thru two gates to get to the back door.  

After that, I only ventured out there with my bodyguard aka husband at my side.  Soon, the babies learned to fly and the nest was vacated.  

There you have it.  That my friends, is the reason why my pictures on this blog are lacking.  Lacking focus, lacking light, lacking any semblance of the perfection that killer bird exhibited when building her nest.  Or lair.  Lair is more like it.  Crazy wild animal.  

That's it.  End of story.  I wonder if I hang that metal basket back out this Spring if she will come back again?  Maybe I'll do just that.  After I find my pith helmet, of course.  

May 2013 Update - I didn't hang that basket back on the porch.  That didn't stop Robin though!  She built a nest in the top of my roll down sun shade on my porch.  She even went so far as to tear it apart and thread some of the wicker into her nest.  Evil little doer.   Pin It