DIY Rustic 6ft. Pipe Shelf

Our sofa isn't against the wall and there is a pretty good bit of space between the sofa and the wall so I decided I wanted to put a 6ft. long shelf back there under the mirror I have there currently.  (Totally plan on replacing the mirror soon for something much larger.) I'd posted a pin to Pinterest a long time ago showing a shelf made out of pipe flanges and pipes with wood and finally decided to make one.

So...off to Lowes I go to buy two pipe flanges (1/2"), two 10" pipe nipples (1/2"), two pipe end caps (1/2") and an 8ft. long 2" x 10" board that I had them cut 6ft. off.  

When I got home, I sanded the board and stained it with Minwax Dark Walnut stain.  Robby installed the pipe flanges on the wall using sheetrock anchors and the shelf fit perfectly between the flange and the end cap.  I used a sharpie to color in the head of the screws so it blended with the flanges better.  

I'm only using it for decorative purposes so I wasn't really worried about it being knocked off the pipes.  If this is a concern of yours, ask Mr. Google for solutions as there are plenty.

I like it and I'm going to make a wall of them soon, shorter ones though.  Probably three of them about 3ft. each.

DIY Blanket / Throw Ladder Pottery Barn Inspired

You, like me, probably have a blanket tossed across the back of your sofa or folded over an arm.  I was in Waco, TX at Chip and Joanna Gaines' store and my friend was looking for a blanket ladder.  When I saw the one she was buying, it was cute, but I was honestly thinking to myself...I could make something like that.

So I did.

And you can too!  Promises.

I went to Lowe's and bought two 8ft. long 2" x 2" for $1.98 each and had them cut 5ft. off each one and then cut the remaining pieces in half.  This way, you will leave with two 5ft. pieces and four 18" pieces.

Then...you get a box of self-boring wood screws, some sand paper and wood stain in the color you want.

So...I got home and laid out my pieces.  I wanted to be able to use the last rung so I made the measuring points begin at 6" and then every 12" after that so that there was 18" clearance at the bottom.  

I used a bit of wood glue on the joints because I wanted to make sure they didn't move.

Once you get it all put together, sand it as smooth as possible and then stain apply the stain you chose.  I did some in Minwax Dark Walnut and some in Minwax Golden Oak.  Seems everyone in my family wanted one once they saw mine.  *sigh* I put felt pads at the top of the back of them so they don't scratch the walls.  

I'm thinking about making one for the guest bathroom to put over the toilet to use for towels.  If I do that, I'll seal it with a waterproof clearcoat.  

Cool right?

I'll tell you what else was cool.  When I saw how much these cost on the Pottery Barn website knowing how much it cost me to make my own!  Pottery Barn Blanket Ladder 

Me make stuff.  You can make stuff too!  GO YOU!

Holiday Season 2016

This holiday season was so epically satisfying. Except for the bronchitis...it was perfect. Kids, family, framily, friends, good eating, amazing gift giving and receiving, hugs, kisses, games, dancing, laughter, giggles and just being so super comfortable in your own skin.

Our nephew goes to a charter school and had more days off than normal public schools and, with working parents, daycare can be a challenge so he spent the two weeks before Christmas with us.  We had an absolute blast with him keeping Santa front and center.

We hosted Christmas dinner and had a holiday party the day after, which was a lot of fun playing games and just catching up with everyone.  

After Christmas, we headed to Houston to bring in the New Year with family and checked out Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Silos in Waco, Texas too!  A good time was had by all.

The house was deep cleaned before we traveled for New Years and when we returned it was great walking into a perfectly ordered home.

And now...we rest and regroup. Make plans, go over financial goals for this year and focus on being ready for any eventuality this year may bring.

I hope it's the same for you. Just be better cuz if I know you...you were already good cuz I only know GOOD people. If all these GOOD people focus on being better? MAN...that will spread far and wide. BE.BETTER!

Happy New Year from The Robinator and I. We hope to see as many of you as possible in 2017 so we can hug your neck and remind you that we're in your tribe. Count on us for what you need from us be it support, encouragement, or just a good time chilling, relaxing and laughing.

LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Excellent Book: "The Nix"

I'm in the middle of this book, "The Nix," and I have absolutely no idea where the author is taking me but honestly...it doesn't matter at this point because I am enjoying the ride.  I can't tell you the last time that's happened, that I didn't know what was going to happen even a little bit.  Like...I have even stopped guessing at this point.  I'm just here for wherever he takes me.

My FAVORITE Uncle Got Married!

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 My uncle, my daddy's baby brother, is one of the men I always thought of when thinking of the qualities I wanted in a husband and he recently got remarried again.  It was a lovely event and I'm so, so, so very happy for him.  I hope, wish and pray that he and his new bride have the most amazingly happy life for the rest of their life together.

Black Santa

This is my oldest bit of holiday decor.  I recently fixed the scratches and many of the missing pieces and put him out as I do every.single.Christmas.  There was such an uproar about Santa being Black in the mall recently that it made me scratch my head.  Santa isn't real so um...Santa can be whatever skin color we want him to be.  Santa has always been Black to me as he has always been representative of our family.  No biggie right?  Right.  Christmas is inclusive so make it as personal as possible.  All that good magic just floating around?  Put it to your own family magical use.  

Too many people out here showing their azz for no reason.  Don't be an azz showing dummy.

And be happy.

Shit.

Giant Outdoor Wreath

I wanted a gigantic wreath to put on the window in the middle of the top floor but Robby wouldn't let me be great.  He decided that since our ladder didn't reach that far safely...I could only put it where I could reach with him holding the ladder.  For some odd reason, he had a problem with me climbing off the tippy top of the ladder over the rail with a gigantic wreath and, since I couldn't hold the ladder while he climbed off the tippy top of the ladder over the rail with a gigantic wreath...well...you see how this ended.

Humph.

N.E.WAY.

I got a gigantic faux wreath, linked together sets of 3 unbreakable ornaments using green ornament hooks.  Added an outdoor bow and attached it NOT on the FABULOUS window where it would be perfect...but under it.  Safely.  

HUMPH.

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Me likey.  And it didn't cost a lot to make.  Which makes me likey it even moreso.  If only it was on the window...*sigh*

HOW IS YOUR DECORATING COMING?

German Chocolate Cake - Gluten Free

I've been making cakes that I've never made before as gluten-free.  I ran into some issues recently trying to make my own gluten-free flour and well...I won't be doing that mess again.  Nothing worse than an ugly cake that tastes good.  NOTHING!  Cake should be pretty.

Moving on...

The Robinator requested a German Chocolate Cake for his birthday this year and, since I've started using Bob Mill's Gluten-Free Baking Flour...life has been good.  So I just swapped out the flour and made the old super-dooper delicious and word that I hate which starts with a 'M' and ends with a 'T' and is sometimes used to describe non-dry cake.  

CAKE INGREDIENTS

2 cups cake flour

1 tsp baking soda

Kraft Baker's German Sweet Chocolate Bar - 4 oz.

1/2 cup water

1 cup butter

4 large eggs, separated

2 cups sugar

1.5 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 tsp salt

ICING INGREDIENTS

1.5 teaspoons vanilla

4 large egg yolks

Can of evaporated milk - 12 oz

3/4 cup of butter

1.5 cups sugar

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

1.5 cups chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS - You need 4 bowls:  2 small glass bowls, a medium and a large bowl.

Small bowl: Break up chocolate chunks, add 1/2 cup of water.  Add an inch of water to the bottom of a pot, bring water to bowl and place bowl on top.  Stir until chocolate is melted.   Remove from heat.

Medium bowl:  Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.

Large bowl:  Beat 2 cups sugar and 1 cup butter until fluffy.  Add egg yolks one at a time blending after each egg until mixed. Add chocolate and vanilla.  Beat.  Add 1/2 cup of flour mixture and 1/4 cup of buttermilk.  Beat.  Repeat until all has been incorporated.

Small bowl:  Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold into cake batter gently.

Split between 3 round cake pans which have been buttered and floured.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Leave in pan for half an hour or so before you take them out of pans to cool.

Make icing.  (This tastes like pecan candy.)

In a saucepan, whip together can of milk and egg yolks over medium / high heat.  Add butter and sugar.  Stirring constantly, bring to boil.  Remove from heat and add coconut and pecans.  Let cool.

To frost, add icing between each layer.  I do it by pouring in the middle and the pushing out to the edges allowing it to drip down the sides.  All the leftover icing should be poured all over top and moved around to spill over.

This cake is ridiculously delicious.

 

 

UPCYCLED! Coat, Hat and Umbrella Stand for Foyer

I found this stand and it was super rickety.  Like...SUPER.  But you know how I feel about real wood so I knew it would be alright.  I took it apart and cleaned it really well and then put it back together solidly minus the rings.  Then...I primed it and spray painted it in antique white.  I painted the rings gold.  

Wanna know how much I paid for it?  $5.  LOL!  Yup...you read that right.  $5.  

GO ME!!!!!!!

Sweet Potato and Pecan Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Week before last I was sitting at a red light in a bit of traffic.  I looked to my right and caught the eye of the elderly gentleman on side of the road who was selling sweet potatoes.

Him:  You don't need no sweet potatoes?

I laughed and pulled over.  Apparently, I needed sweet potatoes.  

So I returned home with 20 pounds of sweet potatoes for $10 which is a REALLY good deal but um...there are  only two of us and sweet potatoes will probably go bad before sweet potato PIE time.  That said...I've been being uber creative with sweet potatoes and searching out all types of different recipes online.    

Today, I roasted cubes of sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil on a cookie sheet for thirty minutes at 425 degrees.  Then...I put two cups to the side and seasoned the rest for lunch.  

Have I mentioned we had 20lbs?  

Yeah.

I found a recipe for Sweet Potato Pecan cupcakes with Cream Cheese frosting which looked promising so I swapped out the can of sweet potatoes for my smashed cubes of potatoes and they were soooooooooooooooooooooo delicious!  I'm not a big icing person so I put far less icing on them than it seems most folks do but they were so good.  Not too sweet and just perfect!  The Robinator had three in twenty minutes.  LOL!  Good thing the recipe made 24!  

I gave some to the neighbor using the awesome Dollar Store boxes I buy all of when I see them in NON-traditional Christmas print.  LOL!  They are $1 for 3 and they are super nice with a peek-a-boo top.  And they are way nicer than the ones at The Container Store that you pay $6 for.  

I feel safe telling yall that because I have like...a LARGE drawer full of them so I won't run out if there is a shortage.  LOL!

This is a 3 bowl recipe for the cake.  Use the biggest bowl for the creaming together the butter and the sugar.  Oh...you'll need another bowl for the frosting.  LOL!

Sweet Potato and Pecan Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (16-oz.) can mashed sweet potatoes OR two cups of mashed roasted sweet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour OR 3 cups of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Baking Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Garnish: coarsely chopped pecans

1. Place pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan.

2. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring once after 4 minutes.

3. Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

4. Whisk together mashed sweet potatoes, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sweet potato mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Fold in toasted pecans. Place foil baking cups in muffin pans, and coat with vegetable cooking spray; spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full.

5. Bake at 350° for 28 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove immediately from pans, and cool 50 minutes to 1 hour or until completely cool. Spread cupcakes evenly with Cream Cheese Frosting. Add a pecan half to the top to make pretty.

The cream cheese frosting is the basic recipe.

1 package of cream cheese, softened

1 stick of butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together cream cheese and butter until fluffy, gradually add powdered sugar on low until all gone and then add vanilla.  Voila...cream cheese frosting!  

These are EXCELLENT fall cupcakes and will be great for the dessert station for Thanksgiving!  GO YOU!

How to Make Lovely Ceramic Coasters!

One day last week I was procrastinating.  STORY OF MY LIFE!  I went to sit down and focus with a drink in my hand.  I already had a mug on the only coaster on that table so then I started thinking that I need more coasters.  So, of course, I started online shopping for coasters.  You know...all the normal places, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, West Elm, etc.

I saw stuff I liked that was more than I wanted to pay and the stuff that I thought was reasonably priced was just BLAH.

BLAH, I SAY!  BLAH!

So then I decided to make my own.  No...seriously...I picked up my keys and went to get supplies to make my own.

I bought white 4 x 4 tiles for .12 cents each at Lowes, a book of scrapbook paper for $5, some epoxy and some cork squares.

Prep your surface.

1.  Cut scrapbook paper 10cm x 10cm.

2.  Brush tile with Modge Podge.

3.  Put paper on tile.

4.  Let dry for 15 minutes. (A few of them, I did a bit of extra with some paint so I had to let those dry longer.)

5.  Brush tile with another layer of Modge Podge.

6.  Let completely dry overnight.

THE NEXT DAY...

Prep your surface and turn a disposable plastic cup under each tile.

7.  Mix epoxy per directions.  (Don't mix more than a little less than half a cup of each bottle.)

8.  Pour in the center of each tile.

9.  Smooth with a spreader.  I use Bondo spreaders.  

10.  Use a foam brush or a folded index card to make sure the sides coated and there is none under the tile.

11.  Let dry for 24 hours.  (I actually let mine dry longer because I was waiting on the cork adhesive to arrive.)

12.  Add cork squares to bottoms.

13.  Tie something around 2 or 4 of them to give as gifts!  LOL!

So yeah...I think they are gorgeous!  Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas this year?  LOL!  Yup.  Just bought two boxes of 100 tiles for $12.00 per box.  GO ME!  Oh...and I made like 32 more Friday.  Crazy pants.

They are on my Etsy site if you decide to not make any but find you need a few extra coasters around your house too.  I put one on every nightstand and one per chair on or near every table.

Tips:

1.  Line the bottom edges with clear tape that you can pull off when it dries so that the drips don't harden underneath.

2.  If you do get hardened drips, you can sand those off.

3.  Cut all of your paper first with an exacto knife.

4.  Don't let epoxy dry anywhere dust or bugs can light on them.  (Yes...it happened.  Damn daddy long leg mosquito!) 

Depression Protection: Small Vintage Writing Desk Paired With Mirror

I found this small writing desk and thought how nice it would be in a guest bedroom where you don't have a lot of space for a real desk but would like to have something in there for your guests to do some work if they have to.  As I was working on it, I remembered a mirror I bought but didn't use in my mirror gallery.  The mirror was just hanging out in the garage behind some stuff so I pulled it out and coordinated the paint with the desk.  I chose Annie Sloan Duck Egg just to have a pop of color in the space it lands.

I have to say...it is super dooper cute now!

The desk has a small drawer for note cards and pens/pencils and a little pullout shelf in case you need a bit more space.  It's pretty perfect and now I'm wondering, as always, do I take it to my shop or do I put it in one of the guest bedrooms?  Hmmmmmmm...

LOL!

I used Howard Golden Oak Restor-A-Finish followed with Howard Feed-N-Wax on the top, drawer and shelf.  It makes it really pretty.  

I know you're saying to yourself...Monnie is always doing something and to that I say...I have to.  I absolutely, 100%, always have to be doing something and if I can't do what I truly WANT to do (make my own movies), then I guess it's cool having a hobby that can consume major blocks of time so you don't sink too far into yourself and get lost swimming around searching for shit you don't even know how to recognize.  I mean...I know that happens to some people and that it is just the way life goes but I'm pretty happy knowing that all I have to do is DO SOMETHING and I don't get too low in my the spirits.

And I do get low.  Very low.  Shit...how could I not sometimes?  

But only sometimes.  You can't let that mess become a habit.

Go do something okay?  DO.SOMETHING.  And it's perfectly okay if it's something you've never done before.  In fact...that's even better.  Having your brain consumed with a project and moving is a good thing.  When the noise gets to be too loud...go do something.  It is a for real solution.

From My Inbox: Screw Them Voices, Yo!

I received this message on Facebook the other day:

Hi Monica! We have never met but I’ve followed your blog for a few years now. I use to live for your blogs/videos about natural beauty/hair care, cooking, housekeeping, fitness and confidence. I know there are a lot of similar blogs out there but yours really connected to me in so many ways. You are awesomely fabulous!

I sometimes wish I can ask you how you do it all. I’m turning 40 this week and although I’m so grateful and happy for so much in my life there are few things I really need to conquer. I feel my biggest set back is the noise in my head, the mental clutter, the self dialogue. Can you please preach to me about how you overcome that to be more productive and active in your daily life? What kind of affirmation motivate and keep you on track?

I completely understand if this is too personal to answer.

Best Regards,

D

So I tipped over to D's page and clicked around a bit before responding...

Why in the world would it be too personal to answer???????????
Imma fight you.
First things first...gimme them babies.
THEM CHEEKS!!!!!!! I WILL EAT THEIR LIL DELICIOUS FACES AWWWWWWWWWWF! LOLOLOLOLOL!
You will always have the power to be your own worst enemy so it’s something you need to seriously work on if that voice inside your head is negative.
And...why should it ever be negative?
You’re smart, beautiful, fun and funny.
Looks like you have a lovely family.
Focus on all the good things, all the time.
I was abused as a child. Big time.
I heard some really ugly things.
As a child.
I look at who I am despite all of that and I know deep down in my heart that I’m a good person in all the areas where it counts.
And THAT is what I use to silence the negative shit that can rattle around in my head sometimes.
I get up sometimes and I think some ugly shit.
And then I shoot that shit down.
I am a good person. I live my life to be of service when I can. I do no harm. I take no shit. Why? BECAUSE I AM A SURVIVOR. I AM THE SHIT.
If you want to compare yourself to crazy stuff think of all the people stuck in their negative circumstances and that’s not you.
Why?
BECAUSE YOU ARE THE SHIT!
Shit.

The conversation went back and forth for a bit with my reminding her to not be a martyr and how martyrs have wrinkles and shit and she's too cute for all that and telling her that she should hire a housekeeper if she can afford it because nobody with kids should have to clean their own home if they can afford to outsource that job.

See...I struggle with why people talk so much crazy shit to themselves.  You'd never say the stuff you say to yourself to someone else so why, knowing the power of loving yourself...would  you ever say it to you?  If someone walked up on you and said some of that ugly ish to your face that you have rattling around in your head, I have no doubt you'd launch at them trying to take them out so turn that same energy into beating that negative voice out, back and down.  You don't have to deal with that shit.  Nobody has to.

You need to be who you need.  It's always been YOU.

Show Us The Middle...Why I love the Show "Atlanta"

I like to know what happens in the middle. Started from the bottom and now we're here? What happened in the middle? I bet that middle is interesting as hell. I bet I will learn a LOT from that middle. I bet that middle looks a lot like MY middle.

That's my major problem with movies and shows about slavery in 2016. We don't have enough of the middle out there. We don't have enough of the building blocks to where many Blacks are now. So you skip over that entire middle and take people either BACK to slavery or straight to Louboutins, expensive weaves and big houses on the hill? Where is the middle? People need to see the middle.

Show people the struggles in the middle so they know they aren't out there dealing with this stuff on their own. Let people see how other folks dealt with the same ISSUES in the middle of all their other everyday issues and balanced them out. The middle can be a rocky azz road. That "pretty" part is hard to come by. More people need to see THE MIDDLE.

Folks walking around looking at the Louboutin life feeling bad about their life because nobody showed them that the meal of Spring Vegetable Ramon with a fried egg on the side used to be a staple IN THE MIDDLE for far more than just them.

Music, television, and film these days, catering to people who look like me, leaves the middle out completely so these kids get disappointed with their life because they never see THE MIDDLE. They think they are supposed to just jump up and have the Louboutin life and when they find out that a pair of Louboutins cost more than they are bringing home in a month from their hourly job...that disappointment sinks deep. It changes the fabric of their get up and go. They start thinking that it's s imply too hard to get there because THEY NEVER GET TO SEE THE MIDDLE.

And poor White people just don't get a break at all. They see Whites on television living the good life but nobody tells them how they get out of poverty. They start wondering WTF? Why "ain't" I upper middle class successful? All these other people I see on television are. I'M SUPPOSED TO BE TOO RIGHT? Poor Whites in entertainment are always stuck out spitting tobacco posting private property signs in their yards which don't have grass in a sea of abandoned pickup trucks. Nobody shows them THE MIDDLE either.  So they stay mad all the damn time.

Yeah...THE MIDDLE is important. Don't forget that. A lot of shit goes on in THE MIDDLE which looks JUST.LIKE.YOUR.SHIT. 

You got what it takes. Don't let the entertainment interests of a few greenlighters make you think you don't need to know THE MIDDLE.

SHIT.

Spicy Boiled Peanuts

My husband loves boiled peanuts and I love my husband so I make him boiled peanuts.

Even though I'm from the Deep South, I've never had boiled peanuts.  Robby used to talk about them all the time when we were up North saying how much he used to really enjoy them.  I could never find raw peanuts so I couldn't make any for him.

I ran into some raw peanuts recently and decided to make him some.  I chose the slow cooker method because it seemed fool proof.

I don't remember how many peanuts I had but it was at least 2 - 3 pounds.  He likes them spicy, so I doctored up some serious spicy stuff.

Raw peanuts

1/3 cup cayenne pepper 

1 boil-in-bag crab boil

1/4 cup salt

Seasoning

Rinse peanuts.  Add crab boil-in-bag to crockpot.  Add peanuts.  Add seasoning.  (Garlic salt, black pepper, Creole seasoning, etc.) Cover with water.  Stir.  Cook on low for 24 hours.  Stir a few more times.  Taste one after 18 hours.  Adjust seasoning accordingly.

I cooked them outside on the deck.  Why?  It smells like vinegar and feet while cooking.  24 hours of that is NOT my ideal nose tickle.  

Oh...and I store them in half gallon mason jars in the fridge using the "juice" to keep them wet. He puts some in a bowl and microwaves them.