Saturday, March 31, 2012

Early Spring Yard Work

It's been unseasonably warm around here.  We decided to take advantage of it and get a jump start on some of our yard work.  Since we've gotten the front pretty much done, minus two small spots of planting grass and getting new gravel for the driveway, this year will be spent focusing on the back.

Today I was able to clean out the areas around the side of the house as well as some of the back yard area.  It was a lot of clearing out/cleaning up.  We also raked up the remaining small rocks from the path to where the old hot tub was and put it under the cement slab the garbage can sits on at the side of the house.  I also transplanted a ton of ground cover to this area.  I don't have any before pictures of this part though.  Oops!

Then we spent a lot of time clearing out roots in the back yard.  We have half of the yard grassed already from previous years' work.  Now it's time to work on the other side where the old hot tub deck was.  We've really let it go and you can tell.

Although the pictures may say otherwise, I was helping! haha  I just also try to remember to document these things via pictures so we can remember how things progress over time.  I couldn't have done it without Peter, though.  He's really the muscles behind everything.  

Next week we are hoping to finish clearing out and getting some grass planted around the side of the deck and halfway to the tree in the back.  We want to move the wall back on that side about a foot and aren't sure what we are going to do around the tree, but we don't want it to hold up planting grass where we know we want it.  I can visualize grass here and it makes me happy.  :)  The other side of the yard used to be stones and a big old fenced dog pen.  So if we can fix that up and the front, we should be able to do the rest of the back.  Really, I'm not worried about that as much as I am concerned about the darn hillside.  We are hoping to get that under control this year too, but it grows so quickly once the weather gets nice.  I just have to remember to focus on small steps.  There's always something to do when you own a house, but we've come such a long way from when we first moved in!  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Homemade Chinese Food

I love Chinese food.  I mean, really, who doesn't?  I don't love; however, all the extra sodium in Chinese food and the inevitable belly ache after eating.  So I've been trying my hand at making homemade Chinese food.  

This Sweet & Sour Chicken with Fried Rice and White Sauce was delicious!  Below are the recipes that I made.  They were altered and put together from a few different sources so it's my own, right? :P

Sweet & Sour Chicken


  • For the chicken coating:
  • 2-3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • For the sweet and sour sauce:
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder


  • 1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
    2. Cut chicken into cubes.
    3. Dip chicken into the cornstarch to coat then dip into the eggs.
    4. Heat your 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet and cook chicken until browned and mostly cooked through.
    5. Place the chicken in an 8x8 baking dish.
    6. Mix all of the sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a bowl with a whisk and then pour evenly over the chicken.
    7. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the chicken every 15 minutes.

Fried Rice


  • 4 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce


  • 1. On medium high heat, heat the oils in a large skillet or wok.
    2. Mince garlic and add to oil.
    3. Add chopped carrots and stir fry until tender.
    4. Move mixture to one side of the pan.
    5. Beat eggs and pour into empty side of skillet. Stir fry until scrambled.
    6. Add the rice and soy sauce and blend everything together.
    7. Stir fry until thoroughly heated.

White Sauce


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper


  • 1. Melt butter.
    2. Whisk together with all remaining ingredients, except water, until creamy.
    3. Add water until desired consistency is reached.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Basement and Garage Cleaning

Our basement and garage have been in desperate need of cleaning up.  We continue to just put things down there to get them out of the way.  We also never cleared out some of what the previous owners left behind.  Now that we've basically got our living spaces under control, we want to focus on fixing up our basement and garage area.  

Step 1 is cleaning out!  We spent 3 hours and got a ton accomplished!  We got rid of old junk, organized what we wanted to keep, and even swept out both areas.  Last month we had new glass block windows installed and the crumbling concrete wall under our basement steps fixed.  When they were done, Peter and I spent 30 minutes in the basement putting things back and cleaning up a bit.  So that helped, too.  

Check out these before and afters!  

Step 2 is going to be dry locking all of the walls, ripping the carpet up and putting leftover kitchen floor materials on the steps, and possible painting or cleaning the floors somehow.  But that's for another day!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Anderson Grove Babies

Today I lit another candle and prayed for another baby.  This makes 6 candles to my "baby candles" collection.  I like to keep them with the baby name and birthday on the bottom to remember the details since each year there are more!  There are actually even more kiddos than this in our grove, but these candles represent "first babies" with the exception of the blue candle for Soren - Carrie's first boy :)  The green candle on the bottom in the middle is the newest addition.

Baby Gehring will be here soon!

St. Wendelin's Flea Market Finds

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I love flea markets!  Today the church across the street from where I work had another flea market.  They do one every few months and the girls at work and I always go.  This year We went right after they opened and it was packed!  We couldn't believe it since we usually go at lunch time and it's pretty quiet.  

$1.95 later and this is what I got.  4 glass bowls, 1 blue glass vase, a leaf tea light candle holder, a pair of earrings that I am going to take the backs off us and repurpose as part of a flower headband, and a wooden candle holder.  I'm actually not sure if the wooden thing is a candle holder.  It was ten cents, but has found a home on my kitchen windowsill as a mini Bath & Body Works candle holder.  :)  The glass bowls were also ten cents each.  The blue vase was a whopping $1.  

Peter asked what I need these things for, but I already found homes for them all.  The only exemption is the leaf which will be used in the fall.  :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Creative Reuse Pittsburgh

I recently heard of Creative Reuse Pittsburgh and decided to check it out with a crafty gal friend of mine.  At first we were a little taken back.  When you walk in and see this picture, it can be a bit overwhelming.  

There were piles of random items that made no sense to us.  Luckily, Erin had the great idea to ask for a brief tour of the place which helped tremendously.

The store is based on donations so it's not like going to a regular craft store.  They had anything you could imagine and then some.  I'm pretty sure Erin left with 5 tons of craft paper haha.  I snagged some, but tried to contain myself since I knew I already had a bunch at home.

This is what I came home with.  5 pieces of 12"x12" scrapbook paper, 3 smaller pieces of scrapbook paper, 3 fabric scraps - bigger than fat quarters, especially the black polka dotted one, 1 new spool of white thread (can always use this - especially for 50 cents!), and about a dozen buttons.  Total cost?  Less than $5!  :)