Archive for April, 2017

$500 Kitchen Finale

…again with the dangerous word, finale! I realized I never included pictures to conclude our $500 Kitchen Redo II post…so here we go…


Painted cabinets, relocated dishwasher, subway tile backsplash, and homemade light!


Vintage island spray-painted red and we added castors for height and mobility…most used piece of furniture in house!


I would be remiss to not mention these smart under-cabinet LED lights that Jim installed. The lights came from IKEA but when you’re looking into the kitchen you don’t see these flat little housings at all but you see their nice light cascade onto the tile. Jim routed the cords behind the subway tile and here’s the kicker–the switch for them is INSIDE THE UTENSIL CABINET! All of the ugly wiring and electrical is totally and blissfully hidden. The nice thing about starting from scratch is that you can hack the hell out of something and you don’t mind ripping out new dry wall or new anything for that matter. Excellent job as always, Jim, in jiggering and making a dollar out of ninety-nine cents.

Are there a million more things we’d like to do? Sure. A new stove? Yeah, that would be nice. Preferably one with a built-in microwave and exhaust fan…I’m sick of having to open the windows when I really want to crisp up my perogies…but since that wall the stove sits against goes to the back mudroom / stairs to basement it’s a bit tricky to get that exhaust installed. I’d love a farmhouse sink and a soapstone counter…but for a debt-free, weekend warrior effort we are damn proud of the result!


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First let me start off by saying YES, it was good. It really was! Some of the few (only) emails that don’t find themselves immediately obliterated to the “delete” folder belong to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Each week they deliver old-school homemaking tips in a new-school fashion and between star-gazing tidbits and ways to make WEEDS delicious, I have to say I am pretty impressed. The full recipe for Dandelion Pesto can be found on the Old Farmer’s Almanac site.

Why dandelions when basil is the time-tested choice for pesto? Dandelions are chock full of nutrients and contain more beta-carotene than carrots. Sun-Warrior’s blog has nearly a dozen reasons why dandelions are good for you. Personally, I don’t always make the smartest choices when it comes to eating healthy so combining dandelions with a dish that I love seemed like a no brainer!

What You Need: 

  • Two cups of dandelion (We purchased organic but any unsprayed versions will do)
  • 10-12 Basil Leaves
  • 1 cup lightly toasted pine nuts (Why are pine nuts so expensive?)
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • Shaved Parm cheese (we used just over 1/2 cup)


  • Pulse together the green leaves until a paste is formed
  • Add pine nuts, EVOO, and cheese and while motor is spinning
  • Spoon warm goodness over your pasta of choice–I recommend a cheese-filled ravioli as the soft cheese cuts the bitterness of the dandelion

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April Fool’s Day in Chicago is no joke–today it’s a sprightly 55 degrees and sunny…perfect day to visit the local garden center! We hit up the Sale table and found adorable fairy houses ($1.50!), a solar-powered fairy herself ($4.00!) and assorted fairy knick-knacks to outfit her Under the Tree Abode. I’m not sure who is more excited to build this imaginary playscape–the girls or the mother!

With our bright sunshine, today is the perfect day to start our micro green project! Our seedlings are planted and covered tightly with a towel to germinate. Let’s see what three weeks’ of germination brings!

Spicy and Mild Seedlings

What you Need: 

  1. Packages of organic micro green seedlings. Ours were from Johnny’s.
  2. Small bag of organic seed starting soil. Purchased from our local gardening center.
  3. Small plastic take-out containers, washed. We used strawberry containers!
  4. Spray bottle.
  5. Something to place your containers in for drainage. We sets ours on top of rocks purchased at the garden center. Parchment paper was used to prevent our holding dish from being scratched by the rocks.


  1. Thoroughly wash and dry your plastic planting containers.
  2. Drill drainage holes in the bottom of your containers. If the plastic starts to strip, painter’s tape will help hold it together and give you some texture to drill into.
  3. Add your organic soil about halfway up the container. Water it thoroughly.
  4. Liberally sprinkle your seeds across the top of the soil. Don’t push the seeds down, just sprinkle them out to cover the dirt.
  5. Gently spray the sown seeds to ensure the seeds make contact with the soil.
  6. Cover. We used a towel.
  7. Set in a warm, sunny location…and cross your fingers!


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